26/07/2012

Farmers GE awareness tour NZ

 

Details of the Tour --- http://www.greens.org.nz/node/29019

DATE PLACE
2 August -- Dunedin
3 August -- Canterbury
4 August -- North Canterbury, Kaikoura
5 August -- Blenheim, Nelson
6 August -- Wellington
7 August -- Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay
8 August -- Bay of Plenty
9 August -- Waikato
10 August -- Auckland
11 August -- Northland

The Green Party have organised a (genetic engineering = GE / GMO) GE Tour, taking two Australian farmers around New Zealand to talk with people about their experiences of GE crops grown in their regions. Their experiences will interest farmers, scientists, officials, politicians and the general public concerned with New Zealand’s agricultural and economic future.

The last Greens GE tour was in 1999 with Jeanette Fitzsimons. More than a decade on, we still don’t have any commercial releases of GE in New Zealand, but are facing the release of GE crops into New Zealand.

We have seen over the time since the last GE tour the rhetoric of GE seed companies and farmers has moved from saying that GE won’t contaminate our crops to now saying that contamination is inevitable and organic standards should be loosened.

The contamination of crops with GE means that farmers lose their non-GE or organic status, and the premium price that they had been receiving for their produce. GE produce consistently sells below conventional and organic prices.

On top of that loss, farmers are open to legal challenges for patent infringement for having GE crops growing on their land. Every year Monsanto investigates hundreds of farmers for patent infringement and brings court cases against many of them.

Recently – we have started seeing organic and non-GE conventional farmers hit back by going to court. They are being proactive about maintaining their GE free status and access to markets that comes with that status.

The two speakers in this GE tour have experienced first-hand the effects that the release of GE crops have had on their communities and businesses.

They will cover the issues of liability and co-existence for organic and non-GM farmers.

Both speakers are available for interviews in New Zealand from the 2nd of August – 11th August.
About the speakers

· Julie Newman

Julie is the National Spokesperson for the Australian Network of Concerned Farmers, an alliance of Australian farmers lobbying for fair risk management to prevent non-GM farmers being adversely impacted by GE crops.

She has a strong agricultural background including being a delegate on the Western Australian Ministerial advisory committee for GM crops, Vice President of WA Farmers Grain Council for many years, and representing West Australia on the Grains Council of Australia policy council and seeds subcommittee.

Julie was a conventional farmer on a 10,000ha mixed farming property, and owned one of the largest seed grading factories in West Australia. Her research into GE and advocacy for farmers has led to her views that GM crops are the biggest threat to food and agriculture we have ever faced.

· Bob Mackley

Bob Mackley is a non-organic canola farmer in Victoria. He is a strong community figure, a volunteer fire fighter and current President of his local brigade, and a Victorian Police endorsed Firearms Safety Instructor. He is a past District Council Chairman, member of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

He has experience as a convener of a grain marketing group formed to empower local small farmers to function in a market geared to large enterprises and is past president of the Wimmera Conservation Farming Association, an organisation dedicated to preserving our soils, its productive capacity, our farmers and their communities.

His crops have been contaminated by his neighbour’s GE canola crops and he is very concerned about the impact of this on his business. He is also concerned about the impact of GE contamination on his fellow non-GE farmers businesses and on the divisive effect on community relationships.

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