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Nation unites behind the organic vision
19 June 2000
Green Party MP and organic farmer Ian Ewen-Street said he was delighted with the results of a survey showing over 70 per cent of New Zealanders believe the future of agriculture lies in organics.
The survey by UMR Insight was conducted between March and May and was commissioned by the meat company Affco New Zealand. The survey questioned both rural and urban New Zealanders.
The survey found that 70 per cent of farmers, 78 per cent of urban dwellers and 71 per cent of rural dwellers believe the future of New Zealand agriculture lies in organics. Around 70 per cent of these groups said they were very or fairly concerned about genetically engineered foods and a similar number of all New Zealanders said they would choose not to eat GE food.
Ian Ewen-Street and Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the survey was further confirmation of the Green Party's view that the future of New Zealand's agriculture lay in switching to organics and rejecting genetic engineering.
"The Greens have a policy of an organic nation by 2020," said Mr Ewen-Street. "This survey shows that the people of New Zealand are on our side."
Mr Ewen-Street said he was particularly pleased that farmers were recognising the opportunities presented by organic production.
"For months now I have been doing the circuit talking to farming groups about the merits of organics and, while I have been aware of growing interest, I am very happy that so many farmers are seeing the benefits so clearly."
Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was also heartened that while the pro-GE lobby began to mobilise in an effort to influence the Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering, by far the majority of New Zealanders were simply not interested.
"The adoption of organics simply must go hand in hand with the rejection of genetic engineering," she said. "Overseas experience shows contamination of organic crops from nearby GE farms is unavoidable. The two sciences cannot co-exist and I am glad to see the country has realised this.
"The challenge now is to persuade the Government on what most New Zealanders already know. The Green Party will be working very hard on this front," she said.
The Primary Production Select Committee, of which Mr Ewen-Street is a member, is currently receiving submissions on the future of organic agriculture. Further information can be obtained from the Select Committee Secretariat in Parliament.
Mr Ewen-Street said the voice of the majority needed to be heard in this process.
Ian Ewen-Street MP: 03 577 7593, 025 902 527; Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6641, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133: copies of survey available.