(4 July/Farmers Weekly)

At the recent Primary Industries Summit in Wellington, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor reported that overseas consumers will ultimately determine whether New Zealand adopts Genetic Engineering (GE). New Zealand has had a long history of debating whether GE food should available in our country even though it has strong scientific backing that it is safe to eat conventionally. In New Zealand, currently no fresh GE fruit, vegetables and meat can be sold and any processed food contained genetically modified ingredients must be labelled. Parts of the farming community said that they should have a choice while other such as National Party agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy say that the discussion around Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) needs to progress at a faster rate. Guy stated that since the last review of biotechnology, which is now 20 years old, technology has improved and become more precise. He also noted that the risks are less and the whole process is better understood. Minister O’Connor reported that the Primary Sector Council will raise the issue when it creates its vision later this year.