MAF dinosaurs must stop robbing sustainability budgets
Soil & Health welcomes the budget initiatives around true environmental sustainability announced yesterday, including the household sustainability programme and the public recycling scheme, and the $800 million investment quoted by Environment Minister Benson-Pope, “to take a big step towards New Zealand becoming the world’s first truly sustainable nation”.
However the big money will be sustainability rhetoric when it comes to primary production unless there are major changes within MAF Policy, according to Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning, adding, “The recent MAF Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change discussion document, contained the word organic just once in 90 odd pages, and that was in the glossary, showing a remarkable and critical level of sustainability ignorance coming from that institution.”
“Best practice organic systems support high yields with low off farm impacts and significant carbon sequestration achieved, as shown in research such as the US Rodale Institute studies, showing organic methods are far more effective than conventional methods at taking CO2 from the atmosphere and fixing it as beneficial organic matter in the soil.”
The 23-year study calculated that if 10,000 mid sized U.S. farms converted to organic production, it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road, or not driving 14.62 billion miles.
Former British Environment Minister Michael Meacher told a 2004 Soil Association conference in Edinburgh, that that government must boost organics to help Britain meet its Kyoto targets. He also highlighted the Rodale Institute research, which also found that soluble nitrogen fertilisers in conventional farming destroyed soil biota that trap greenhouse gases.
“Current New Zealand dairy pasture research, theoretically in a sustainability direction, includes nitrite and urease inhibitors, with one inhibitor giving off cyanide in the presence of acid. What message does that give to our trading partners when we market the riches of a clean green land and to consumers looking to a truly sustainable future”, asks Browning.
A new research fund, allocated in Budget 2007, will bolster New Zealand’s international leadership position in helping the agriculture and forestry sectors respond to climate change, Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton and Climate Change Minister David Parker announced yesterday. The ministers said New Zealand needed and wanted to develop its role as a world leader in agriculture and forestry research on climate change.
“To be world leaders and maximise research dollar benefit, MAF needs to acknowledge and begin multiplying the best of organics significantly beyond current organic sector budgets”, according to Browning, “Brand New Zealand is waiting”.
“The Prime Minister put sustainability at the heart of the government’s agenda when she opened Parliament in February, yet some Ministries struggle with acknowledging the mistakes of the past and are set on more of the same.”
“The Soil & Health Association of NZ sees improved government support for the organic sector as an important solution to primary production climate change hurdles, and supports the Prime Minister’s aim of a truly sustainable New Zealand. But change the guard for a truly sustainable nation with an international point of difference: Nuclear Free, GE Free, clean and green, and heading to an Organic 2020.”