Federated Farmers bees man ambushing beekeepers GE protection
Federated Farmers GE statements show they are confused about what clean and green means, and appear to be influenced by the vested interests of one of their provincial presidents, according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.
Federated Farmers genetic modification (GE), biosecurity, and bees spokesperson John Hartnell has been hard hitting in the media against Northland Councils seeking public feedback to proposals to set policy protecting non GE growers and the community from the costs of GE contamination.
“It would seem that John Hartnell may be overly influenced by New Zealand’s main lobbyist for GE, Dr William Rolleston, a biotechnology entrepreneur and Chair of the Life Science Network, but now also Federated Farmers President of South Canterbury province,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“The position Hartnell is taking, flies in the face of one of his own ventures, that of exporting organic honey. You can’t have organic or GE free honey if GE crops or trees are in the same region, but like a bee that has lost its way, Hartnell seems to be confused about what direction he should be taking.”
“The position that Northland Councils are exploring is actually about ensuring that honey producers, horticulturalists and farmers are not disadvantaged should GE be allowed in the New Zealand environment.”
“However Hartnell who should be looking out for New Zealand beekeepers and biosecurity appears to be trying to ambush protections for New Zealand beekeepers and primary producers, by criticizing the small spending by the Councils on a poll to test community acceptance of their plans,” said Mr Browning.
“When GE pollen was released by Plant & Food Research at its GE Brassica field trial at Lincoln near Hartnell’s home, did he join Soil & Health demanding that MAF-Biosecurity test nearby bee hives or brassica seed for contamination? No!”
“Good biosecurity practice in protecting New Zealand’s clean green brand would be testing for contamination to remove doubt. Federated Farmers biosecurity emphasis needs to be at home as well as at the border.”
“Hartnell’s honey would not be able to be marketed as clean green, 100% Pure New Zealand if GE contamination was found, but he doesn’t want decent protection to be installed for his fellow industry colleagues either. What’s up? Something’s murky in the Feds and it smells like GE.”
“Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson, Willy Leferink chose to mention the benefit of GMO free grass being part of New Zealand’s market advantage recently, and Federated Farmers Grains Council certainly knew their market risks when maize for Japan was contaminated with GM soy, but somethings up. Hartnell’s here and he doesn’t seem to want to risk Northland Councils putting in protections for non-GE producers,” said Mr Browning.
"It is time Federated Farmers joined in the vision of a clean green Aotearoa New Zealand, recognised the economic advantages of the brand, and protected the real interests of its members."
Current Government legislation does not give full protection to those disadvantaged should GE contamination occur. Although the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification had 49 recommendations as a framework to its outcome of “to proceed with caution”, only 20 recommendations have been fully implemented and significant gaps remain around environmental testing and liability.
The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) and MAF-Biosecurity New Zealand have allowed GE field trials all to fail consent conditions, including potentially GE pollination events, without significant penalty.
Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 that includes a GE Free Aotearoa New Zealand.
Spokesperson and Co-chair
Soil & Health Association of NZ
021 725 655
The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand Inc
PO Box 36-170, Northcote, Auckland
Phone: (09) 419 4536 Fax: (09) 419 4556