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New Zealand: Support to depend on food policy - Greens



Support to depend on food policy - Greens
Copyright 1998 Wellington Newspapers Limited
The Evening Post (Wellington)
December 15, 1998

   The Green Party says its support for any other political party
in a coalition government will depend on progress towards its
food policy.

The party's health policy started with its policy on safe food,
which included promoting organic farming, reducing pesticide use,
and having New Zealand declared free of genetically modified
foods by 2000, co-leader and Alliance MP Jeanette Fitzsimons said
yesterday.

"Not many political parties have a food policy . . . That's
despite the fact that for more than half the world, enough food
has been at the top of the political agenda for centuries," Ms
Fitzsimons said.

"There's increasing evidence that in Europe, and to some extent
the US, the question of what is in our food, how safe is our food
and who controls our food is among the top political questions as
we go into the new millennium."

Technology is being used to "manipulate our food in a way that is
convenient and profitable for agri-business but dangerous for
consumers," Ms Fitzsimons said.

It was obvious from hospital waiting lists that New Zealand's
health needs had outstripped the ability to pay for them.

It was time to ask why so many people were getting so sick and
what could be done to prevent it, she said.

Part of the answer was growing poverty amid wealth and the
consequent poor housing and poor hygiene.

"But there's growing evidence of the link between diet and health
and increasing numbers of people who are allergic to food,
sensitive to chemicals, have damaged immune systems and suffer
from chronic diet-related diseases. And that is something we can
do something about."

While the Green Party recognised it would be a small player in
the next Parliament, its support for any other party would be
conditional on "some progress" being made towards its food
policy, Ms Fitzsimons said.

Its policies were aimed at having half of New Zealand's
production certified organic by 2020, and the remainder in the
process of converting to organic.

Farmers in transition to organic farming, when yields could drop
temporarily, would be helped with a mortgage guarantee or an
interest-free loan for up to three years.

Other policy planks included government endorsement of organic
standards, setting targets for reducing total pesticide use,
levies on toxic and hazardous substances that would be used to
fund organics research and clean up contaminated sites, having
New Zealand declared free of genetically modified foods by 2000,
keeping New Zealand free of irradiated food, prohibiting the use
of antibiotics and growth hormones to make animals grow quickly,
and ensuring New Zealand remains free of mad cow disease. - NZPA


craig k harris
department of sociology
michigan state university
429b berkey hall
east lansing  michigan  48824-1111
tel:  517-355-5048
fax:  517-432-2856


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