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Federated Farmers Sell Out Organic Farmers Over GE

Green Party MP and organic farmer Ian Ewen-Street today said the vice president of Federated Farmers, Tom Lambie, was selling out organic farmers in advocating for genetic engineering in agriculture.

Tom Lambie, himself an organic farmer, told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Engineering this week that he believed genetic engineering in agriculture did not threaten organic production and that GE and organics could co-exist.

"I think it is very important to stress that, among organic farmers, Mr Lambie's views are virtually unique," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"There is evidence globally that pollen from genetically engineered crops has contaminated organic crops, rendering the crop basically worthless. It is important to note that to be defined as organic a product must be completely free of any genetically engineered material.

"As pollen from GE crops has been located up to five kilometres from the original crop, the introduction of genetically engineered crops would pose a massive risk to New Zealand's organic farmers."

However Mr Ewen-Street said Federated Farmers were missing the whole point behind organics.

"While the Green Party support the rejection of genetic engineering and the adoption of organics because of the huge economic opportunity this poses for the rural sector, we also support this method of production because it is the most environmentally sustainable," he said.

"The Greens believe that rather than trying to beat nature at its own game and trying to twist nature to produce unnatural products, we should work with nature to produce the very best products."

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Mr Ewen-Street said Tom Lambie was as out of touch with organic farmers as Federated Farmers were with New Zealand farmers generally.

He said he was hugely disappointed with the performance of Federated Farmers at the Royal Commission, and on the issue of genetic engineering generally.

"Despite 70 per cent of New Zealand farmers saying they think the future is with organics and 69 per cent of rural people voicing concern over genetic engineering in a recent poll, Federated Farmers have been pushing in completely the opposite direction," he said.

"This raises serious issues about their mandate and their claims to represent famers."


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