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Royal Commission biotech report breeds dissent

(Aug. 2, 2001 – CropChoice news) – The government of New Zealand will begin considering the recommendations from the Royal Commission report on biotechnology. It says that the technology has a place in the agricultural landscape of the country.

Angered over the report, organic farmers and green groups say that the two models of food production cannot co-exist, yet the government accepted separate recommendations that would allow no foreign genetic contamination of organic crops.

Green Party members have even threatened to withdraw their support for the ruling Labour-Alliance, which would destabilize the coalition government.

Organic farmers have threatened to dig up transgenic crops. Tony Higginson, who represents the Far North Organic Growers Producers, told Just-food.com: "We are absolutely staggered and gutted... we cannot understand how they can ignore and refute the submissions made by organic producers, both local and international."

Meanwhile, the Tasmanian State government in Australia, which last week imposed a two-year moratorium on transgenic crops (with the exception of poppy seed trials), sees its GE-free status as a potential marketing edge for the state.

Organic dairy producer Joe Gretschmann told the Mercury newspaper: "As sad as the New Zealand situation is, it will definitely have positives for Tasmania…Just this morning I had two inquiries about organic products ... from exporters of dairy and cheese products to South-East Asia and Japan. People up there know that Tasmania has implemented another moratorium and inquiries are already rolling in."

To see the report, go to: www.gmcommission.govt.nz

Sources: Just-food.com and the Mercury newspaper