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22, May, 2009

NZ Should Note Tasmania’s Clean Green GE Free Approach


Category: Soil & Health Association of NZ

New Zealand should follow Tasmania’s acknowledgement of the advantages of its clean green image on Wednesday when it extended its ban on the release of genetically engineered organisms to the environment for another five years, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.

“Supported by our Parliament, New Zealand’s primary industries need to take on the vision of sustainability and a genuine brand of clean and green to take on the opportunities as identified by the Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.

"Tasmania's GMO-free status is a vital factor for our primary producers, helping them realise their full potential in international and interstate markets," said Mr David Llewellyn, Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, later adding, "The prime markets are demanding, and are prepared to pay for, food that is clean, green and safe.”(1)

“ Here in New Zealand, Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are pushing a future with genetic engineering while also being the best examples of bad practice, such as Plant & Food Research’s recent GE Brassica field trial disaster and Scion’s aborted GE pine tree field trial last year,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Mr Browning.

“AgResearch with its applications for an infinite range of GE animal experiments throughout New Zealand is another example of poor understanding and care for New Zealand’s real market advantages, clean green and GE free, as identified by our similarly advantaged neighbour Tasmania.”

“Genetic engineering does not fit with brand New Zealand or the New Zealand community any more than intensively battery farmed pigs and chickens, or dirty dairying streams. We are cleaning up our animal welfare and there is a lot of focus on cleaning up our streams. Genetic engineering must follow and our science industry must stop its fascination with genetic engineering field trials and focus on our market strengths and image.”

Most New Zealanders are strongly opposed to the genetic engineering of animals in New Zealand, with farmers as ardently opposed as the rest of the community. (2)

A Colmar Brunton Omnijet survey of over 1000 people last year, commissioned by the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand and the national animal advocacy organisation SAFE, found that only 27 per cent of New Zealanders, and just 28 per cent of farmers, support genetic engineering (GE) of animals. However six out of ten farmers (61%) who stated an opinion in the survey said they do not support GE of animals, and almost a third of all farmers surveyed (28%) stated they 'don't know.'

“At a time of economic uncertainty, the use of a diminishing science budget on developing risky and unwanted genetically engineered plants, animals and products is all the worse,” said Mr Browning.

“There is a clear political and economic advantage for New Zealand’s leaders to take an enlightened approach and bring New Zealanders along to further develop the clean and green, 100% Pure brand.”

“Communities such as those in the North that are considering genetic engineering free zones need constructive political and legislative support to help maintain their current GE free environmental and market advantage.”

"Twice as many New Zealanders oppose GE than support it.”

Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020, which is GE free, and has high standards of animal welfare and environmental sustainability, and which fits perfectly with the markets identified as the best value for New Zealand’s primary producers.

“Tasmania has identified a similar advantage. Will New Zealand spot the clue?” asks Mr Browning.

(1) David Llewellyn, MP, Minister for Primary Industries and Water, GMO Ban Bill Passed

(2) KIWI POLL REJECTS GE ANIMALS

Both references in full further below.

Contact:
The Soil & Health Association of NZ Spokesperson
Steffan Browning
021 725 655
greeny25@xtra.co.nz

(1) David Llewellyn, MP, Minister for Primary Industries and Water
Wednesday, 20 May 2009

GMO Ban Bill Passed
Tasmania's ban on the release of genetically modified organisms to the environment will continue for at least another five years under a Bill passed by Parliament today.

The Minister for Primary Industries and Water, David Llewellyn, said today that the State's GMO-free status is a key factor in the Tasmanian Brand.

"Tasmania's GMO-free status is a vital factor for our primary producers, helping them realise their full potential in international and interstate markets," Mr Llewellyn said.

"The decision by some other Australian states to relax their GM bans has actually increased the value of Tasmania's GMO-free status.

"It provides us with opportunities for even better Tasmanian access to prime markets.

"The hard work done over recent years has ensured that Tasmania is well placed to take full advantage of its reputation as a reliable supplier of the best and safest food."

The commercial release of genetically modified food crops is now banned until November 2014. The ban prohibits the unauthorised importation of genetically modified organisms, but does not apply to the importation of non-viable materials, such as processed animal feeds and food.

Mr Llewellyn said that the opportunities for Tasmania's primary industries, operating under the Tasmanian Brand, are exciting.

"The prime markets are demanding, and are prepared to pay for, food that is clean, green and safe.

"Tasmania is already well-positioned to meet that demand, and our decision to extend the GMO ban makes the Tasmanian Brand even stronger."

Further information: Tasmanian Government Communications Unit Phone: (03) 6233 6573

(2) 12 October 2008
Kiwi Poll Rejects GE Animals
Most New Zealanders are strongly opposed to the genetic engineering of animals in New Zealand, with farmers as ardently opposed as the rest of the community, a new survey shows.

A Colmar Brunton Omnijet survey of over 1000 people, commissioned by the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand and the national animal advocacy organisation SAFE, found that only 27 per cent of New Zealanders, and just 28 per cent of farmers, support genetic engineering (GE) of animals. However six out of ten farmers (61%) who stated an opinion in the survey said they do not support GE of animals, and almost a third of all farmers surveyed (28%) stated they 'don't know.'

The two organisations that commissioned the poll, along with GE Free NZ and the Green Party, mounted nationwide campaigns last month to vehemently oppose four applications submitted by AgResearch to conduct broad-ranging genetic research and the commercialisation of GE animals. The groups warn the applications threaten New Zealand’s clean green image and could result in potentially catastrophic environmental disasters in addition to animal suffering.

“Twice as many New Zealanders oppose GE than support it,” says Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning. “These AgResearch applications effectively threaten our entire nation by proposing commercial production, and go much further than just small-scale, contained research.”

SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek said today: “The majority of New Zealanders are opposed to GE animals (55%) and almost one in five (18%) want more information about what is being planned, the risks involved, the effect on the animals and who will really benefit. New Zealanders have an inherent distain for the genetic engineering of animals. When you consider the foetal abnormalities, deformities and congenital health defects of cloned GE animals, kiwis have very valid reasons to oppose GE.”

The survey shows two thirds (67%) of people who expressed an opinion are opposed. Opposition is equally strong across different ethnicities: among those with Maori descent who expressed an opinion nine out of ten (86%) are opposed.

For further details of the survey or for more information please contact:
Steffan Browning, Soil & Health Association of NZ spokesperson: 021 725 655
Hans Kriek, SAFE Campaign Director: 027 446 2711

The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand Inc
PO Box 36-170, Northcote, Auckland
Phone: (09) 419 4536
Fax: (09) 419 4556
info@organicnz.org