Steffan Browning: Pesticide reduction and Organic Growth Strategy in Budget 2016

steffan browning garden

The Budget is an opportunity for the Government to launch a pesticide reduction strategy that multiplies the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) and the Ministry for Primary Industries capacity to reassess pesticides and other toxins. A government organic strategy and supportive advisory programme, could mean a major switch to highest value organic production for our primary production exports from all parts of New Zealand.

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Ensuring robust GE protections must also ensure safety of older technologies

A few weeks ago the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) called for submissions about proposed changes to the classifications and subsequent rules around organisms developed using chemical and radiation treatments and that may be considered products of genetic modification (GE/GMO). Background For many years some plant breeding especially, has used chemical or radiation mutagenesis treatments to […]

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Federated Farmers president is trying to take rural New Zealand down a GE rabbithole

New Zealand food producers who are committed to producing safe, organic and GE-free foods will be scratching their heads over a Western Australian Court of Appeal decision this week. Organic farmer Steve Marsh lost 70% of his organic certification because GE canola blew over from the neighbouring farm contaminated his crop. But the court ruled […]

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Successful effort to raise the issue of GE trees in proposed standard

Many thousands of people submitted on the proposed National Environmental Standard –  Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).  A vast majority of the public submissions were particularly focussed on the NES having included GE trees in its mandate. People want these provisions removed, as do we. There were also some very useful detailed, technical submissions concerned about the […]

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Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO

This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of Wrightson (1996-2004) was appointed the Chief Executive of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), and he […]

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Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start

On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change. Frankly, the events were a bit of a shambles. The Government officials clearly weren’t expecting […]

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Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer

At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides malathion and diazinon, both used in New Zealand. All three will be even more dangerous […]

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Genetically engineered trees are an international concern

Recently, the Brazilian government was asked to approve commercial plantations of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. Worldwide protests were held to pressure the Brazilian government to turn them down, including here in Wellington. I went with protestors to the Brazillian Embassy to raise our concerns, and was graciously invited into the Ambassador’s office (pictured above). I […]

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Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility

Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at our borders to stop new pest incursions, but prevention, eradication and control programs nationally, regionally, […]

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Fed Farmers defend GE Agriculture

Federated Farmers, which represents a minority of farmers, appears to be captured by a pro-GE clique hell bent on increasing unsustainable technologies for the benefit of the herbicide and patent controlling seed companies. That there are better more sustainable farming systems compatible with our markets seems to be beyond Federated Farmers current voice. Earlier this […]

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Swedes Spray and Southland

Some farming leaders and agricultural companies in New Zealand seem hell bent on maintaining a slide into the lowest commodity level of production, threatening both our marketing reputation and the health and safety of stock and consumers alike. The latest casualties from this unsustainable kind of farming are several hundred stock, mainly dairy cows, that […]

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Is Key misrepresenting us over Five-Eyes?

Over the weekend, American investigative journalist and author Jeremy Scahill was interviewed on TV3’s ‘The Nation’ programme. Jeremy Scahill is the National Security Correspondent for The Nation magazine and the author of the international bestseller ‘Blackwater’. His latest book, ‘Dirty Wars’, raises questions about America’s war on terror, including the use of drones. In the […]

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Whose tree is it? Whose farm is it?

Whose tree is it? Whose farm is it? The announcement of the sale of Carter Holt Harvey’s pulp and paper and packaging businesses to Japanese interests, consolidates New Zealand’s forestry interests into foreign ownership. Over 70% of plantation forests are already owned by overseas interests and now all the major forest products processors are foreign […]

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Climate change report should signal change in forestry species and management

This week saw the release of the IPCC report pointing to significant trends in climatic effects on New Zealand farming and forestry. One trend was that climate change is expected to increase the number of days with very high and extreme fire weather. This has equally severe implications for forestry as we know it in […]

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Pesticide residues in many foods – organic is the answer

Yesterday, the agri-chemical industry’s New Zealand association Agcarm tried to spin its way out of the fact that almost all of about 600 samples analysed in Safe Food Campaign’s Dirty Dozen 2013 list contained pesticide residues. The Dirty Dozen Food in New Zealand more likely to contain pesticide residues ranked according to number of pesticides […]

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Precautionary approach to GE in the Bay of Plenty?

I had a visitor this week from the USA. Phillip Geertson called into New Zealand to describe to me in detail how genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa (lucerne) had effectively contaminated all conventional alfalfa growing areas in the United States, and why we should be concerned about any further imports of alfalfa seed here. Phillip’s company, […]

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Govt risking innovation & business in the name of security

This week I’ve been blogging about the TICS bill, the Government’s change to the Telecommunications Act to require telecommunication firms to assist intelligence agencies in intercepting and decrypting phone calls, text messages and emails. As well as the privacy concerns about this bill, one of the big issues is the risk for future job creation […]

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