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New Zealand mishears the world on food

Media Release – for immediate issue

1 October 2012

New Zealand mishears the world on food

In a major admission to Massey University’s Executive MBA students by the World Bank in New York, New Zealand’s policy makers’ misunderstanding of ‘Food Safety,’ may be adding thousands of dollars to the individual cost of agricultural production at the farm gate.

“I was stunned to learn what we know as Food Security is defined by the World Bank as Food Safety. It may sound like semantics but it carries a huge implication for our agricultural producers and exporters,” says Letitia Isa, a student of Massey University Executive MBA programme.

“This simple but fundamental misapprehension may see New Zealand jumping ever higher but illusionary hurdles. Instead of higher standards boosting returns, they may in fact be eroding them for almost no financial gain.

“When the World Bank says Food Safety they are not talking stainless steel, the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme or the Emissions Trading Scheme. What the World Bank means is how New Zealand can contribute to the feeding nine billion people by 2050.

“That carries with it a powerful but different policy message.

“New Zealand can feed some 24 million people according to the University of Waikato’s Professor of Agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says developed countries need to increase output by 70 percent to do their bit.

“It might sound provocative, but we need to seriously weigh the cost-benefits of adopting polices that do not generate tangible revenue at the farm gate, or increase production. While European supermarkets seem to be a de facto political and policy benchmark, are ever higher compliance costs worth it?

“It may sound counter intuitive, but perhaps quantity does have a quality all of its own. A simple metric maybe if a policy adds a dollar of cost, does it produce well over a dollar of added revenue at the farm gate?

“Moreover, are our other policy settings, particularly around Genetically Modified Organisms, retarding New Zealand’s ability to do its fair global share?

“Certainly, the way the World Bank defines Food Safety needs to become central to New Zealand policy formation. If not, we risk unprecedented global disorder that New Zealand could not escape,” Ms Isa concluded.

ends

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