Exports Threatened by National's 'Corngate' Policy

Published: Thu 21 Oct 2004 04:35 PM
Exports Threatened by National's 'Corngate' Policy
New Zealand's brand-reputation and exports will be threatened if the National Party follows through on its minority-report on Corngate and authorises the importation of GM-contaminated seed.
Despite a cross-party consensus on recommendations in response to Corngate, in their minority-response National MP's say they will allow thresholds of contamination in seed.
The Select Committee report says National MP's believe a "tolerance level of GM content should be permitted for seed imports at the border" and that the HSNO Act should be modified to allow cabinet to authorise 'practical tolerance.'
This would give up on New Zealand's current zero-contamination standard that does not allow importation of contaminated seed. It also contradicts the Select Committee recommendation that best-practice systems are needed to address "the commercial trade risks to the integrity of the New Zealand Brand" (Rec. 2c)
There have already been a few incidents where NZ exports have been rejected by export-markets overseas because of trace GM-contaminants. This would become a flood of rejection if National follows its policy.
This is a real threat to New Zealand's economy. The Sustainability Council of New Zealand has warned that our most important markets reject even trace-GM contamination and independent research with EU importers confirms this.
"It will destroy our reputation for quality-food and force us to compete as a producer of second-rate GM-contaminated commodities, " says Jon Carapiet from GE-free NZ in food and environment.
There is no justification for National's proposals given improved testing regimes such as the leaf-disc test pioneered by Pacific Seeds in New Zealand which weeds out GM contamination each season.
Failure to adopt these non-proprietary systems is negligent and warrants prosecution of companies knowingly importing contaminated seed, not official endorsement by National.
The National Party's policy sells out our farmers and food-manufacturers to benefit a small cartel in the biotech industry who will be able to sell contaminated -seed and not take the effort to maintain segregation.
"Unnecessary acceptance of GM seed contamination is tantamount to sabotage of our clean-green position in the global market," says Mr Carapiet.
"If this is Dr Brash's intention he and his colleagues must front up and justify how this is in any way in the country's interest."

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