INDEPENDENT NEWS

Fed Farmers Out Of Step With Farmers - Greens

Published: Fri 3 Aug 2001 11:26 AM
Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP today said Federated Farmers is failing to represent the best interests of New Zealand farmers in its strong advocacy for the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.
President of Federated Farmers Alistair Polson yesterday dismissed comments from Mr Ewen-Street that the release of genetically engineered organisms into our environment would threaten markets for New Zealand farmers as 'unconstructive'.
"Mr Polson may not personally agree with my comments but I believe I am representing the views of the overwhelming majority of farmers on this issue and the bottom line is that my comments are true," said Mr Ewen-Street.
"As a nation New Zealand trades heavily on our clean green image and the release of genetically engineered crops or organisms into our environment will certainly be noticed by our agricultural markets and, I predict, be viewed most unfavourably.
"Already feedback from the UK suggests that any move towards a GE future would have a negative impact on our export markets," he said.
Mr Ewen-Street said Federated Farmers had shown a disturbing lack of vision in refusing to address the potentially significant market reactions to the release of genetically engineered organisms in New Zealand and farmers should be concerned by this.
"New Zealand farmers need to decide where their competitive advantage lies in accessing global markets - is it in producing clean, green food on the back of our current reputation or is it in adopting genetic engineering techniques which markets are actively avoiding and which is at odds with the concept of clean and green?
"In failing to deal with this crucial issue properly, I feel Federated Farmers have sold out the farmers they are claiming to represent," he said. "Farmers could play a pivotal role in deciding whether we stay GE-free and polls suggest a clear majority of rural people have real concerns about this unproven technology."
Mr Ewen-Street said it was important to note that only two per cent of the 11,000 submitters to the inquiry had favoured the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and that Government may yet dismiss the report's recommendations in favour of the will of the people.
"If we release GE into our environment all farmers will be tarred with the same brush. Despite the comments from Mr Polson I think New Zealand farmers know this to be the truth."
Ends

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