There is an opportunity cost to New Zealand's 'natural' reputation in primary production that is not being considered and casts doubt on the direction proposed by Te Puna Whakaaronui.
This new think tank set up by the Ministry of Primary Industries to represent the food and fibre sector states in the “Fit for a better World” report that their approach will -
“recognise the connection between the health of the land and the health and resilience of our communities, water ways, biodiversity and climate” (p.12)
However, ignoring New Zealand's success with non-GMO production they intend do this by promoting GE science and to drive innovation by promoting deregulation of certain synthetic biology technologies.
“This is in contradiction with the 'natural, clean, green' image that serves all New Zealand exporters and is our point of difference. Our export success has been achieved without failed GE technologies adopted overseas,” said Claire Bleakley, GE-Free NZ president.
The direction this group is promoting is dependent on synthetic biology technology (GE), chemical systems and highly processed value-added products.
However, claims that New Zealand cannot go forward unless it adopts GE technologies is belied by the actual projects featured, which are all innovative and free of GM technologies.
MPI have given out around $400 million to support various projects in the sector. Yet, there has been no funding given to support Organic farming that has been a proven system of farming with no synthetic inputs and guaranteeing a safe and sustainable food outcome.
The chair of Te Puna Whakaaronui, Lain Jager has said that NZ will miss out if we do not adopt laboratory created foods produced through synthetic biology, like GE microbe fermentation. This is repeating the same warnings and promises made for the failed GM technology 25 years ago. Overseas use of GE has benefited biotechnology companies but poor performance of GE crops has been costly for the environment and farmers.
Authentic Regenerative Agriculture is undermined by unsustainable use of chemicals and GMOs in farming that have polluted the earth and food systems. We need to clean up man made pollution not introduce another pollution problem for the next generation with GE and synthetic biology.
It is concerning that MPI has not considered the viable and innovative sustainable solutions that exist, but is supporting the undermining of our sustainable legislation by promoting the deregulation of GE technologies.
New Zealand farmers need to be careful not to fall under the influence of large agricultural life sciences agendas and to keep focused on the huge advantages for New Zealand of farming without GE or chemicals to meet the global demand for safe, natural and ethical products.
Jon Carapiet - Spokesman 0210507681
Claire Bleakley – President 027 348 6731