GE has place in NZ

April 8, 2014

The audience at the annual Kim Hill Earth Hour debate decided there is a place for genetic engineering in New Zealand.

. . . Ninety minutes of pros, cons and broad views presented by panellists Tony Conner (AgResearch),  Robert Cruickshank (Lincoln University) and Richard Newcomb (Plant and Food Research) on one team and Christine Dann (Organics Aotearoa), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and  Jon Hickford (Lincoln University) on the other, with close interrogation of them all by Kim Hill, was followed by 30 minutes of questions from the audience.  Chairwoman Sarah Walters, Deputy Mayor of Selwyn, then invited the audience to indicate by “noise” how they felt on the question.

Sarah ruled that the “ayes” were “slightly louder” signalling that genetic engineering should stay on New Zealand’s agenda “as a research opportunity” but with the provisos that it be well regulated, that consumers have a choice between GE and non-GE through strict labelling, and that the role of large overseas corporate organisations funding, and thereby influencing, research, be curbed. . .

Richard Newcomb added that the “GE debate has become completely intertwined with the anti-big business debate and with the notion of big business controlling food production and supply.” . . . .

He’s right – many of those opposed to GE are on the left of politics and also opposed to what they label big business.

Defending the environment, Christine Dann said she believed genetic engineering was “ecologically dangerous and too risky.”

“If everyone had their own little garden and grew their own vegetables the problem would be solved,” she said.  . .

If she is right, and I don’t think she is, Would she care that a whole lot of other problems would be created including job losses?

New Zealand is taking a very cautious approach to GE which is as it should be.

But the vehement opposition to it is based on emotion not science.

That a majority of the audience gave cautious support, albeit with provisos, to GE gives some hope that science might win.

 

 


Rural round-up

June 12, 2013

2013 New Zealand Wine Vintage Set to Be One of the Best:

The 2013 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked in all regions. Winemakers across the country are heralding it as one of the best vintages in history.

“An outstanding New Zealand summer provided near perfect conditions for growing grapes across the country” said Philip Gregan, chief executive officer of New Zealand Winegrowers. “The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions. 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.”

According to the 2013 Vintage Survey, 345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2013 crop is up 28% on the small harvest last year but up only 5% on 2011. . .

Fieldays: new forecasting service for farmers -

A new weather and environmental forecasting service has been launched at the National Fieldays by NIWA today.

The service provides farmers with tailored information about weather conditions on their farm.

The web-based weather forecasting information service called NIWA forecast aims to help farmers and growers identify the right time to carry out weather-dependent operations like irrigation, spraying and harvesting.

NIWA chief scientist, atmosphere, Dr Murray Poulter said the new service takes forecasting to another level because different forecasts can now be created for properties as little as 12km apart.

“NIWA forecast can deliver valuable climate analysis and forecasts from the present to 15 days ahead direct to farmers’ and growers’ computers via the internet direct to their farm.” . . .

Meat Industry Excellence gets into the first gear of reform:

With the 2013 National Agricultural Fieldays now underway, so is reform of New Zealand’s red meat sector being championed by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE). MIE is shifting the gears of reform following intensive meetings held in Christchurch and Wellington last week.

“Having met with Beef+Lamb NZ Chairman, Mike Petersen and Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre executive, there is recognition and support among farmers for a truly sustainable red meat sector,” says Richard Young, MIE Chairman.

“MIE sees its role as shifting the gear for reform out of neutral. For an industry bedevilled by past infighting it is great to know that Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb NZ want to work with us. . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre works on reform:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre will follow up on a positive meeting with the Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) with a discussion on reform and farmer behaviour at its 2013 conference in Ashburton next month.
“MIE gave us an update on where they are at and some of the changes they are working on,” Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson Jeanette Maxwell said.

“We had a highly constructive conversation around meat industry issues and many areas of alignment emerged.

“Both organisations realise they have much in common and want to achieve the same goals. In the next couple of weeks there will be a lot more information to emerge from MIE. . .

Farmers to have equal say in Fairtrade:

Farmers from Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America are to have an equal say in running the global Fairtrade movement for the first time this week.

In a ground-breaking move, producers of tea, coffee, bananas and other goods will have half the votes at Fairtrade International’s annual General Assembly in Germany on Wednesday, 12 June 2013. . .

Fairtrade is the first major development organisation to pioneer such power-sharing between groups in the northern and southern hemisphere. . .


Rural round-up

November 10, 2012

Synlait Farms Takes Out South Island Farmer of the Year title for 2012

Canterbury-based dairy enterprise Synlait Farms clinched the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition for 2012 last night (Thursday 8 November 2012) with an entry that judges hailed as a prime example of New Zealand’s leadership role in innovative and entrepreneurial agricultural practice.

Chief Judge Bob Simpson said that all four finalists demonstrated leadership, excellence and innovation.

“Any of the finalists could have won this award tonight,” Simpson said. “But in the finish it was Synlait’s blend of family-based traditional farming practices with the very best of modern corporate innovation and management systems that saw this multi-farm company stand out. Synlait’s approach to its people, its stock and its land can be held up as an example of what can be achieved when good leadership and good people go hand-in-hand.” . . .

Landcorp ready to run Crafar farms – Andrea Fox:

State farmer Landcorp says its Chinese client Shanghai Pengxin will settle the Crafar farms purchase with receivers on November 30 and it is scheduled to start managing the dairy farming estate the next day.

Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly said that to the best of his knowledge this was the timetable that would mark the end of the tortuous three-year Crafar farms sales process.

Landcorp’s management of the 16 central North Island farms is a condition of Government consent to the controversial sale to the Chinese company, which has waited through a string of court challenges and consent processes to put its money on the table as receiver KordaMentha’s preferred bidder. . .

Wool growers asked for $10m – Gerald Piddock:

Wools of New Zealand is asking for $10 million from strong wool growers in a capital raising offer to expand its sales and marketing capabilities.

The raising would give strong wool growers the opportunity to invest in a grower-owned sales and marketing, company, chairman Mark Shadbolt said.

The company has made significant inroads into transforming Wools of New Zealand into a commercial entity, aimed at connecting customer to grower, he said. . .

Wine sector senses a whiff of recovery – Claire Rogers:

The wine industry is on the mend after a gruelling few years that prompted a string of closures and collapses, New Zealand Winegrowers says.

One recent high-profile casualty, Hawke’s Bay winery and vineyard Matariki Group was put into receivership in September owing creditors, including the Government, about $11.2 million. Receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers said the winery struck financial trouble after reduced harvests in 2011 and 2012 led to weak sales, and that was compounded by a lack of capital.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the 2012 harvest was down 19 per cent on 2011, and that had dealt another blow to the industry, which had been struggling since 2008 with over-supply and weak demand from the global downturn. . .

Sea air tenderises spring lamb – Jon Morgan:

Logan Brown’s head chef Shaun Clouston takes a bite, chews thoughtfully, swallows and then licks his lips.

“By crikey, that’s beautiful,” he says, shaking his head slowly, wonder in his voice.

On the plate is a lamb rump, finely sliced, with kumara, crushed peas and roasted tomatoes. It’s a simple dish. “I want the lamb to be the hero,” Clouston says.

This is not any lamb. The meat is from a young spring lamb, only 4 months old when it was sent to slaughter, and from a farm on the coast south of Whanganui. . .

Kiwi to Lead International Tree Society

A Dunedin arborist became the first-ever Australasian president of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) last week.

Mark Roberts, an experienced arborist and academic director of horticulture training firm Thoughtplanters, is the second non-American elected to lead the 88-year-old society.

More than 20,000 arborists from 18 countries are members of ISA today. . .


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