New Zealand primary producers benefit enormously from the nation’s clean,green image. This includes the wine industry, which relies heavily upon the country brand for its market cachet.

To date, no GM food crops have been commercially grown in New Zealand. The country is a GM Free Food Producer. In October, this could change when the moratorium on commercial release of GMOs expires.

Many consumers in our key export markets reject GM foods, and are concerned about the environmental effects of GM crops. For them, the growing of GM foods is not likely to resonate with New Zealand’s clean, green brand.

Surveys in key export markets indicate there are distinct advantages for food exports to be branded as originating from a GM Free Food Producer nation.

Some argue that a case-by-case assessment of GM foods is enough to address the potential affects on export markets. However, a government regulator is not the place to make such fundamental national strategic calls about Brand New Zealand.

There is a way forward: NZ should remain a GM Free Food Producer, providing for continuing research into GM foods, while not allowing commercial GM food production for the next 5 years.

For New Zealand winemakers, this would have no affect on the advance of genetic research in viticulture. Much of this research is lab-based and does not involve the release of live GM organisms. As it stands, GM grapes varieties, which would involve such a release, are not likely to be available for another ten years.

Read the report: Clean Green Wine & GM