INDEPENDENT NEWS

New Zealand under scrutiny on WORLD FOOD DAY

Published: Wed 16 Oct 2013 02:16 PM
New Zealand under scrutiny on WORLD FOOD DAY
New Zealand must protect its export reputation and environment by recognising the value of our grass fed animals and GE free food production in the world market.
It is vital to maintain our point of difference and counter threats to our export future coming from trade deals that promote and even enforce lower standards and bad farming practices.
World Food Day is a time when the issue of safe food is in the limelight, yet New Zealand is poised to trade away our marketing advantage for a “no holds barred” agricultural deal under the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The threat is not just to our capacity to market clean safe GE-free food but to the integrity of the food system, including access to seeds.
Our seeds are essential to agriculture and to supporting life but farmers face restrictions on what they can buy, and may be forced to grow genetically engineered plants. The control of seed companies in the US has already dramatically reduced options for farmers even as GE crops are proving to be deleterious to production and health.
Good nutrition depends on healthy diets, which in turn require healthy food systems. Healthy food systems are made possible by appropriate policies, incentives and governance, and it is these controls that will be lost under the TPPA.
"Healthy diets are diverse, containing a balanced and adequate combination of energy and nutrients", said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-free NZ in food and environment.
"It is not in the region's long term interests if the TPPA works against having a stronger focus on nutrient dense foods and diversification of small farms combined with nutrition education to help consumers choose healthier diets."
There is clear evidence that corporate agriculture has increased soil degradation and energy use. Agricultural chemicals and GE plants produced by the same companies have contaminated land, water and seed stocks. Chemicals like Round-Up, which are associated with over 80 of the GE foods being grown, have been shown by studies to negatively impact nutrient levels that are needed to sustain health.
As well as nutrient deficiency, tests in 2013 showed that GE corn contained dangerously high levels of formaldehyde. This toxin was not tested for by the applicants wanting approval for their products and Food Standards New Zealand (FSANZ) did not assess the toxin. Round-Up resistant crops also chelate minerals. Much of the food produced by genetic engineering has reduced micronutrients, especially minerals.
New Zealand must follow its own path to build a resilient and sustainable future for agriculture.
Heritage varieties of vegetable and fruits have higher nutritional benefits. Bio-dynamic farming methods build healthy soils without added chemical use. Conversion of urine, manures, waste food and vegetation into soil-building compost increases productivity.
New Zealand must preserve its GE Free food production systems which do not suffer from these micronutrient deficiencies and will support better health, fewer child deaths and an increased future potential.
www.gefree.org.nz
ENDS

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