INDEPENDENT NEWS

All Farmers Threatened By Possible GE Release

Published: Wed 1 Aug 2001 11:51 AM
Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP today said all farmers - not just organic farmers - would be threatened by any release of genetically engineered crops or organisms into the environment.
"So far the debate following the Royal Commission report has focussed on the risk of contamination to organic farmers following release into the environment of genetically engineered crops or organisms.
"While the threat of any GE release to organic farmers is huge, conventional farmers also have a great deal to lose from genetic contamination and the subsequent lack of international market confidence in the purity of their produce," said Mr Ewen-Street.
"Farmers must be acutely aware that their international success relies heavily on global perceptions of our clean, green image and genetic engineering is the antithesis of that image."
Mr Ewen-Street predicted that markets would react unfavourably to New Zealand's primary produce if there was a possibility that their purity had been compromised by genetic engineering.
"This is the issue that I do not feel the Royal Commission has addressed, yet it lies at the heart of the debate: What is the international economic value of our current GE-free status and what do we stand to lose by abandoning it?" he said.
"Farmers - despite the intensive lobbying of Federated Farmers - are well aware that there are no markets for genetically engineered produce because, quite simply, there is no consumer demand. If there is no demand why grow it?"
Mr Ewen-Street said international organic standards guaranteed there was zero genetically engineered contamination, but that the same was simply assumed of our conventional produce because it had been grown in a GE Free nation.
"If we release GE into our environment all farmers will be tarred with the same brush," he said.
Ends

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