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Minister's 'consumer choice' decision praised

Minister's 'consumer choice' decision praised

Soil & Health - Organic NZ is praising Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson for making a strong stand on behalf of consumers.

The Minister explained last week why the fortification of bread with folic acid is to be voluntary and not mandatory. "Consumer choice is more important than science when it comes to deciding on folic acid in bread" she said.

"It is inspiring that she is reinforcing this precedent and again made a strong stand for the consumer" says says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson for Soil & Health - Organic NZ. “The same stand has been made for organics” she says. "NZ legislation currently prohibits GE crops to be commercially grown here. Doing so would cross-contaminate organic and conventional alternatives (as has been the case in Australia) thereby giving big Agri tech companies, such as Monsanto, a monopoly on our food supply and removing consumer choice" says Swanwick.

Swanwick's comments come after a GE Free New Zealand demonstration in Rotorua in the weekend attended by over a hundred people. The demonstration was held in response to the opening of the XII international Agricultural Biotech Conference, being held from 2-6 September, which has reignited debate on GE crops being grown in NZ.

The catch cry of GE advocates is that increased yields from GE crops will feed the world, control soaring food prices and produce economic benefit to New Zealand famers.

"But all of these promises are hot air” says Swanwick. "The world currently dumps a third of its food. Food delivery is an economics issue not a production issue and to date no farmer (or consumer) has ever benefited from GE crops. Research that suggests otherwise or invalidates the benefits of organics have in the past been commissioned and/or funded by these big Agri tech companies. A food monopoly will drive food prices up even more allowing these corporations free reign to set the price of food and tell us what to eat."

Rising costs in GE production including increasing use of herbicides with a failure to yield (as identified in the The Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yieldthe definitive study to date on GM crops and yield), explains why GE farmers aren't benefiting.

Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide to combat pests who had built up a resistance to GE crops.

"The recent failure of BT corn crops in the US is a further testament to this" says Swanwick. The rootworm which has developed a resistance to the insecticide, now free to attack, puts more than half of the corn grown in North America, and much of the rest of the world, at risk.

"NZers aren't luddites as suggested by Graeme Peters Chief EXecutive of AgCarm in the media this week. Our government, farmers and the general public are very well researched on the topic and prudent. They recognize genetic terrorists masquerading as Prince Charming professing that we will all live happily ever after with GE crops. GE is nothing but a bad fairytale, especially should crops fail and we are left with no other choices and an agricultural dead end," says Swanwick.

Soil & Health - Organic NZ promote GE free, organic, fresh and healthy food.Oranga Nuku, Oranga Kai Oranga Tangata.


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