29/10/2014

Trade Deal Threatens Farmers and Food Businesses

 

The secret Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations are a direct threat to food businesses and farmers, and a moratorium on the release of GE crops must be enshrined in law before the agreement is signed.

Federated Farmers [1] are advocating for accelerating progress at the talks. This would involve changes to New Zealand legislation and standardise policies with the trade partners.

There appears to be a push for behind closed-door for assurances these legislative changes will be surreptitiously put in place over the next four years, and before the wording is made public. This is despite reassurances from the trade negotiation Minister Tim Groser that New Zealand's interests would not be betrayed.

“In essence the secret free trade agreement could be signed under the proviso that legislation will be changed to allow New Zealand to grow GE crops," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ (in food and environment).

“This is a direct threat to the freedoms and sovereignty of all farmers. It will destroy the competitive point of difference that helps New Zealand exporters thrive. The TPPA looks like being the ultimate betrayal of New Zealand farmers and food exporters to overseas corporate interests," says Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

The Ministry of Primary Industries is drafting changes to the HSNO regulations defining what a GMO is, and potentially subverting oversight and avoiding regulation. The changes could go even further, by mirroring the “Monsanto Bill” [2] in Guatemala.

The “Monsanto Bill” gave transgenic seed patent holders strict property rights in the event of possession or exchange of original or harvested seeds without the breeder’s authorization.
The ownership right extended to “varieties essentially derived from the protected variety”, thus hybrids of protected and unprotected seeds are also deemed to belong to the protected seed’s producer. Those found violating the law, wittingly or not, could face prisons term of one to four years, and fines of US$130 to $1,300.

“This threat to farmers is real. It is concerning that our very own Federated Farmers are willing to sell out New Zealand farmers choices, by divesting control to companies like DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, and Pioneer.

"By advocating to remove the zero tolerance for transgenic seeds through changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) legislation, they are kneecapping Brand New Zealand's competitive position in the world market" said Claire Bleakley.

Our unique reputation is based around producing healthy, safe high-quality food for consumers. More and more companies like Sanitarium and Goodman Fielder have sought to source all their ingredients as GE-free, using a verified segregated “non-GM" supply chain.
However the global markets are finding it increasingly difficult to source corn or soy that is uncontaminated with GE varieties, and look to countries such as New Zealand as a source of customer friendly GE Free supply.

New Zealand can proudly sell all food crops grown here as GE-free, ensuring unique access to the global market for clean, safe food.

It is this that the TPP looks set to deliberately destroy. Defensive action by the government is required now.

A moratorium on the release of GE crops must be enshrined in law before the TPP is signed.

References:
[1] http://agrihq.co.nz/article/agri-sectors-call-for-strong-ttp-outcome?p=6
[2] http://www.argentinaindependent.com/tag/monsanto/
[3] http://www.sanitarium.co.nz/about-us/our-promise/gm-ingredients
[4] gmfreepolicy.com
ENDS:
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 0273486731
Jon Carapiet 0210507681

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