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Press Release: Monday, 14 December 1998
Right now New Zealand is at a cross roads. We could keep on the path of industrial food production, selling bulk commodities at low prices. Or we could position ourselves as an organic nation with a determined strategy to support our growers to produce and market the highest quality clean green food, making our reputation a reality before we lose it. That opportunity is not compatible with embracing genetic engineering for crops grown in NZ. The production of pesticide-resistant insect pests, creation of new plant and animal viruses and the gradual pollution of the gene pool with unnatural genetic material will eventually make it impossible for any NZ production to comply with internationally recognised organic standards.
In other words, we have to choose, and we have to choose soon.
Food policy is also about democracy. Citizens have a fundamental right to know what is in their food, and to participate in decisions about what will be allowed. We cannot allow the imposed rules of a world trade club most New Zealanders did not choose to join to override our rights to information or to health.
Citizens have a fundamental right to know what is in their food, and to participate in decisions about what will be allowed.
Our Target: an organic nation by 2020
Our policies are aimed at having half of New Zealand's production certified organic by 2020, and the remainder in the process of conversion. As a first step towards this target., we aim to have 10% certified organic by 2005.
Policies to promote organic growing
- To help farmers over the transitional period when yields can drop temporarily, a mortgage guarantee or an interest free loan for up three years for growers converting to organics, with the interest payable at the end of the conversion period if certification is not achieved.
- Government endorsement of Bio-Gro and Demeter organic standards for domestic and export purposes
- Establishment of an organics advisory service for growers with some government funding
- Redirect funding in the Public Good Science Fund into research that supports organics
- Organic growing to be incorporated in all courses and qualifications in agriculture and horticulture Opportunities to experience organic growing to be available in all schools.
Pesticide Reduction Program
- Set targets for the progressive reduction in total pesticide use and monitor and report results
- In consultation with consumers, growers and manufacturers, develop an immediate timetable for phasing out the most toxic and persistent pesticides, such as the 33 pesticides that have been identified by the US EPA as being possible and probable carcinogens
- Set a levy on all toxic and hazardous substances, the levy to be calculated in proportion to their toxicity and persistence in the environment. This levy to fund organics research and the cleaning up of contaminated sites.
- All Maximum Residue Limits for pesticides to be reviewed, and set on the basis of children's tolerances, not adult tolerances (as at present)
- Annual surveys of domestic produce to be undertaken to test for pesticide residues and other contamination
- Imported food to be routinely tested to ensure it does not contain illegal pesticides residues (no such testing is done at present)
New Zealand a GMF-Free Nation
- By 2000, New Zealand to declare itself (and market itself internationally as) a nation free of genetically modified foods. GM food is defined here as food produced by inserting genetic material from one organism into an organism from another, unrelated species with which it could not breed naturally.
- No field testing or production of any genetically engineered food in NZ.
- The Greens would prefer to see no imports of GM food, but as a minimum there must be mandatory labeling of any imported GM food or food ingredients.
We believe New Zealand should remain an Irradiation-Free Nation.
- No irradiation of food to be permitted in New Zealand
- No imports of irradiated food to be permitted into New Zealand
- More work is urgently needed on alternative treatments to irradiation to extend the life of fresh produce
To slow down the spread of antibiotic-resistance in New Zealand:
- Prohibit the use of antibiotics to make animals grow quickly or as routine sprays on crops
- Antibiotics to be administered to animals only to treat disease
BSE (Mad Cow Disease) To ensure New Zealand remains BSE-free:
- Allow imports of cattle semen and embryos from certified organic herds only
- In line with WHO recommendations, prohibit feeding the ground-up remains of sheep and cows to any animal that is used for human consumption.
Discontinue the use of growth hormones to make animals grow more quickly or produce more milk.
Food Additives The precautionary approach will apply to any additives that have questions surrounding their safety.
- Additives that have been found to induce cancer in animal tests not to be registered in New Zealand
- The acceptable daily intake of all additives will be revised so that it is based on children's tolerances, not adult tolerances
- Products that contain sulphites, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, cyclamates, caffeine, will say so on the label, regardless of the amount
The consumer's right to know requires labeling that is easier to understand, and more informative, with all ingredients and additives listed.
Our food standards are increasingly set by authorities which represent the food industry and are keen to promote world trade. To ensure safety is paramount:
- Food standards to be set by independent authorities which have as their primary mandate to ensure a healthy and safe food supply.
- The agency should not have a potentially conflicting mandate of promoting international trade.
- Consumers and health professionals should be represented on all bodies that set food standards or make decisions which affect the quality of the food we eat.