The appointment of Dr. William Rolleston as president of Federated Farmers, and of Ian McKenzie and Anders Crowfoot to the Board , signals that the direction has been set toward introduction of the environmentally devastating technology that is GE farming.
Dr. Rolleston has worked his way up from being the public advocate for the Life Sciences Network, through the funding arm of the Science and Innovation Board, to become leader of Federated Farmers.
There are fears that 'the man for Monsanto' is now president of the organisation and will push his vision of releasing GMOs in New Zealand with the argument that this will allow "farmers to choose".
The reality experienced overseas is that GMO contamination spreads through the system with the effect of denying farmers and consumers any choice.
The attempt to have GE crops "coexist" with other farming approaches has led to contamination of non-GE seed stocks, increased weed and pest devastation, and harm to soil ecosystems, water and non-target insects.
The global supply of soy is a case in point, where even organic and non-GE identity-preserved production is constantly under threat from the spread of GE soy.
"Last year's study by The McGuiness Institute shows that the millions spent on the GE route has not benefited New Zealand farmers," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ. (2)
"The report says New Zealand's best option is to restore a moratorium on environmental release of GMOs. Federated Farmers should heed that advice if it really has the interests of the farming community at heart."
ďThe farming sector is under great pressure to fulfil the supply demand from national and international markets. Research into sustainable and organic farming systems has almost been shut down. The Biological Husbandry Unit in Lincoln is seriously underfunded, yet AgResearch has spent over 25% of its budget on genetically engineering forage plants for a market that does not want to go down the GE path," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.
"Funding for research that is directly relevant to sustainability, safe GE-free food and the livelihoods of the farming community must be the strategic focus."
The only light in the election of Dr. Rolleston is the fact he is not just pro-GE but also claims to be pro-science (3). The science to date has shown that genetically engineered farming and foods have caused increased environmental risks, yield reductions, and contaminate other farming systems.
Dr. Rolleston's recent praise for Argentina's use of GE crops ignores the darker side of what has happened to families who work and live in fields adjacent to GE farms.
Their experience has included reproductive failures, giving birth to deformed children and serious health problems.
We do not want any deterioration of our environment or food supply in New Zealand. The Government must ensure that the research focus is directed toward the gold standard of sustainable, safe agroecology. This is what consumers expect and our export markets demand.
New Zealand must protect its global point of difference as a producer of safe, clean, GE-Free food.
(1) Introducing you to your new President & Board 7 July 2014 (Federated Farmers)
(3) Could pro-GM lobbyist fracture Fed Farmersí support? The National Business Review / June 27, 2014
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731