Increased Science Funding, An Opportunity For Clean And Green NZ

The Budget’s new science funding increase should speed correction of key flaws in New Zealand’s Clean Green 100% Pure environmental reputation, and boost conversion to organic agriculture and horticulture, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.
Soil & Health asserts that the implementation of alternatives to both aerial 1080 drops and methyl bromide release to the atmosphere, along with a redirection of science funding away from genetic engineering (GE) development and field trials, would instantly improve New Zealand’s best primary production and tourism marketing advantage.
“Replacing GE, methyl bromide release and the broad-scale use of pesticides such as aerial spraying of 1080 is critical if we are to retain credibility with our tourists and best value export customers,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Agriculture Minister David Carter spoke to over 700 dairy farmers at Dairy NZ’s conference last week and correctly pointed out the importance of New Zealand’s clean green image and animal welfare record to our best value export markets. Yet at that same event Dairy NZ, with speakers from Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST) and AgResearch, boldly promoted the development of GE crops and in particular GE ryegrass.”
“Although theoretically “keeping the options open”, by having the pro-GE speakers, Dairy NZ failed to present speakers that could show the significant failings of GE internationally, to both farming communities and the environment, and the market distrust of such production. GE cannot co-exist with best practice and market friendly sustainable production.”
“GE is not compatible with the export markets the Minister identified, neither is the release of ozone depleting neurotoxic methyl bromide gas by our log exporters. Neither is the broad-scale use of 1080 and herbicides.”
“The new science funding in primary production must not be wasted with the old business elite or fast buck science clique but used for a genuinely sustainable future.”
“Organic and genuinely sustainable production, and humane and environmentally benign alternatives to current pest control chemicals get far too little funding, yet the same politico-business-science culture that has created New Zealand’s sustainability problems continues funding technologies that pave the way for more environmental and marketing disasters.”
“When will our political, science and farming leaders get it? The branding is the vision. The branding is the economic and environmental future for New Zealand. It is not to be a sham but a reality. Clean green 100% Pure New Zealand.”
“Development of chemical nitrification inhibitors, genetically engineered ryegrass and clovers, and monoculture forests of chemically dependent radiata clones are a misuse of science and extension funding. None are genuinely sustainable and smack of corporate greed and an ignorance of the world around us,” said Mr Browning.
“Dumping GE, scaling up infrastructure for recapture of toxic fumigant gases such as methyl bromide, speeding development of alternatives to 1080 and other risky pesticides, and promoting the best practice animal welfare and organic production examples to New Zealand’s producers and customers will give technical and economic gains New Zealand can be proud of.”
Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 that fits well with the clean green 100% Pure NZ branding the government recognises. Science and extension services funding must urgently and genuinely follow that vision.

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