Fonterra's, New Zealandís largest dairy cooperative, investment in gene edited, genetically engineered (GE) animal and plant biotech, is putting its cooperative farmer shareholders, brand and reputation at risk.
Fonterra has been riding on New Zealandís clean green non-GE brand in line with global consumer expectations, but is covertly supporting GE. The investment in GE animals and plants is the wrong direction to deliver sustainability for farmers who are the main shareholders and suppliers to the company. 
The move away from organic sustainability was signalled in 2011 when Fonterra cut 50 percent of its organic suppliers saying they would collect milk, but not recognise its organic status. 
The market gap has been filled by the Organic Dairy Hub  a growing supplier of organic milk to other dairy companies.
"The demand for organic dairy products has outstripped supply and has become one of the fastest growing product lines," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.
"Organic milk powder exports attract a 50 percent premium over conventional milk powder. Yet Fonterra is turning away from the investing in sustainable, regenerative systems that consumers are demanding. Instead they are supporting the expansion of unwanted GE research."
At the same time, Australian Ministers are considering removing regulations and governmental oversight on new GM technologies, including CRISPR, in animals, plants and microbes. This would mean that Australia would be the first country to deregulate such technology, casting a cloud over exports and risks undermining the reputation of dairy companies on both sides of the Tasman.
Global Consumers Unions have said they would not be willing to eat GE products, as they consider the new technologies are neither ďpreciseĒ or ďpredictableĒ, and can harm biological diversity, as well as pose unknown risks to human health. The validity of these concerns are supported by recent scientific studies that confirm genetic engineering and gene editing cause unexpected gene changes leading to unknown dangers, which require regulation.
"Fonterra's pursuit of GE animals and deregulation in Australia are examples of self-sabotage. They are disregarding the wishes of international consumers and respected market signals," said Mrs Bleakley
Consumers want clean, safe, sustainably-produced GE-free food. This is what Brand New Zealand is known for, and what Fonterra should be investing in.
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731