Green Party GE-Free tour – Whangarei date; Sat 11th August 4:30pm Old library, Rust Avenue Whangarei
Two Australian farmers with first-hand experience of Genetically Engineered (GE) crops in their communities are touring New Zealand, with Green Party MP Steffan Browning, to share their stories and warn New Zealand farmers about the risks of GE crops.
The last Green Party GE tour was in 1999, during the time of the Royal Commission into Genetic Engineering.
Green Party spokesperson on GE, Steffan Browning says that there is increasing pressure to begin growing GE crops in New Zealand and that we need to hear the warnings of Australian farmers who are experiencing damage to their brands and businesses because of GE.
The farmers will share their personal stories of moving from being open to GE crops, to experiencing the negative impact introduction has on their businesses and communities. They will discuss the issues of liability and co-existence and the contamination problems already occurring in Victoria and Western Australia.
One farmer, Bob Mackley, has had his canola fields contaminated with his neighbor’s GE canola, which is affecting his business as the price he can get falls, and affecting his community relationships.
The second farmer, Julie Newman, now advocates against GE and argues that GE crops are the biggest threat to food and agriculture we have ever faced.
This tour has been organised by the Green Party in the context of intended applications for releases of GE pasture plants such as GE rye grass and clover, AgResearch’s investment in GE research, and this year’s upcoming agriculture biotechnology conference which is being touted as “the World Cup of Biotech”.
With the pressure on to release the first GE crops in New Zealand, it’s time to examine what impact they could have on our clean, green economy and marketing advantage.
What can we learn from the experience of our Australian neighbours about how the introduction of GE crops will affect our agricultural industry and New Zealand’s economy? What are the better options available to New Zealand farmers?
All speakers are available for interviews in New Zealand from the 2nd of August – 11th August.
Bios of speakers
· Julie Newman
Julie was a conventional farmer on a 10,000ha mixed farming property, and owned one of the largest seed grading factories in West Australia.
She has a strong agricultural background including being Vice President of Western Australian Farmers Grain Council for many years, and representing Western Australia on the Grains Council of Australia policy council and seeds subcommittee.
Julie has come to the conclusion that GE crops are harming farmers. She is the National Spokesperson for the Australian Network of Concerned Farmers, an alliance of Australian farmers lobbying to prevent non-GE farmers being adversely impacted by GE crops.
· Bob Mackley
Bob Mackley is a canola farmer in Victoria. He is a strong community figure; a past District Council Chairman and a member of the Victorian Farmers Federation.
He has experience as a convener of a grain marketing group formed to empower local small farmers to get their crops to market, and is past president of the Wimmera Conservation Farming Association.
His crops have been contaminated by his neighbour’s GE canola and he is very concerned about the impact of this on his business. He is also concerned about the divisive effect the introduction of GE crops has had on community relationships.
· Steffan Browning
Steffan Browning is the Green Party spokesperson on GE, organics, and agriculture. A former horticulturalist, he has been advocating on GE issues since 2003 in a number of roles including with Soil and Health, GE Free NZ, and Bio Gro.
He has worked to expose the lack of compliance in GE field trials in New Zealand, and highlight the risks posed by introducing GE into the New Zealand environment.
For more information:
GE Free Northland- Anna Murphy
local tel #: 4322155
Steffan Browning, MP, 021 804 223
Kena Duignan, Political and Media Advisor, 04 817 6767