17/02/2016

Farmers Quit, Feel Betrayed by Federated Farmers Leadership

 

Some farmers are resigning from their main national organisation Federated Farmers due to the increasingly aggressive stance taken by their leaders to push genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The organisation is loudly supporting changes to the RMA that will remove the right of Councils to place precautionary objectives and planing controls relating to use of land for genetically modified crops in their regions.

"The leadership direction is wrong-headed. It is pushing farmers towards being the enemy of the consumer and a blight on exporters," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

The leadership of Federated Farmers claim that they are preserving choice for farmers. This is actually false, and to the detriment of the agricultural sector as a whole. The last decade has allowed us to become renowned for clean, high quality produce that gains substantial premiums in overseas markets for being GMO Free. Today, farmers can choose to sell their produce into every market with confidence. They do not have the cost of testing produce to see if it fits with the GM laws in it's trading countries. GE-Free preserves farmers' ability to access all markets, and effectively increases choice and secures an important competitive advantage for Brand New Zealand.

The Federated Farmers leadership argue that GMOs should not be controlled locally despite the fact that the EPA loses any centralised jurisdiction to control a GMO once approved for release. Rather than such controls being a cost to ratepayers they provide nett benefits as release of GMOs overseas has been shown to increase pesticide use, lower the sale price, increase insect and weed resistance, and turn off consumers.

Even big food companies once supportive of GMOs are moving to alternative ingredients to avoid GE ingredients in their products.

Federated Farmers wrongly claim that if a council places policies on GMO’s when central government approves a new organism then this organism cannot be used in the region. This is totally incorrect as not all hazardous substances or new organisms approved by the EPA are GMOs. Preventing contamination by GMOs will be helped by limiting where they can be used and proper future planning.

It is a concern for many New Zealanders that Federated Farmers leadership has adopted the Lifesciences Network vision and is exploiting the Federated Farmers waka to lobby for GMOs to be commercialised in NZ.

It is extremely important that we preserve our ability to trade our high quality produce to the world. Our farmers are the backbone of the economy and destroying this valuable GE-Free standard is not in the best interests of the country, communities, or consumers.

References:

[1] Midday Rural News http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ruralnews/audio/201789293/midday-rural-news-for-15-february-2016

Ends

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 0273486731

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