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Federated Farmers backs the March for Science

Published: Fri 21 Apr 2017 03:48 PM
Federated Farmers backs the March for Science
Source: Federated Farmers
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Federated Farmers is encouraging its members to join the March for Science on Saturday in Christchurch (10am), Wellington, Palmerston North and Dunedin (11am) and Auckland (1.30pm).
March for Science events are happening on April 22 in 500 cities around the world. They’re about sending a message to society that we need to take more notice of the science in those debates where it matters.
"This is particularly relevant in New Zealand when we are talking about climate change but also the use of 1080, fluoridation, immunisation, genetic modification and water," Federated Farmers national president Dr William Rolleston says.
"We have seen in many of these debates that activists have peddled fear to generate public outrage in order to keep these technologies from our use, or restrict our social licence to operate.
"For example, we seem to follow the scientific consensus on climate change but ignore it on genetic modification."
More than 100 Nobel Laureates have written to Greenpeace asking them to drop their opposition to genetic modification, which they labelled a crime against humanity. They said: "We call upon the governments of the world to reject Greenpeace's campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology [genetic modification] in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology [genetic modification].
"Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped," the Laureates wrote. "How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a crime against humanity?"
Dr Rolleston says these are strong words from the world’s brightest scientific minds. A ‘closed mind’ rejection of any sort of GM use in New Zealand is short-sighted.
The recent report by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, gives us a glimpse that science and scientists must come to the fore in the debate about water.
"He points out that water quality is the responsibility of all of us and its decline has had multiple causes and will need multiple solutions. The decline has taken decades to occur and that it will take decades to get back to the target point. Importantly he identifies that the interventions we have made have been a good start."
Dr Rolleston says a key reason Federated Farmers supports the March for Science is that we want scientists to engage in debates where science matters, such as the debate about water. But they also need to be held to account when they abuse their position as a scientist to push an activist agenda beyond the margins of science.
"It was appropriate in our view for Prime Minister John Key to call out water scientist and activist Mike Joy in the water debate. I am sure the Prime Minister was well advised by scientists unwilling or unable to speak out.
"Mike Joy’s statement that all ruminants should be removed from agriculture in New Zealand clearly shows his activist end game but it is often difficult for the public to discern the subtle difference between scientific statements and those which are simply activist," Dr Rolleston says.
"At the same time it undermines science itself. It is the responsibility of the science community to hold activists abusing their scientific credentials to account and it is time for science to put the debates in perspective, as Sir Peter Gluckman has in his reports on fluoride and water."
ENDS

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