A study undertaken for Government has failed to show any sure economic gains from releasing GMOs. It shows no concrete benefits that would justify New Zealand giving up now its status as a GM Free Food Producer, said Sustainability Council Chair, Sir Peter Elworthy.
The report states that the overall outcome for the economy ten years from now could be positive or negative depending on the assumptions.
All the positive assumptions are entirely hypothetical. They relate to three GM products that are still under development and may never be commercialised.
Yet the main negative influence is verifiable today. It is the negative impact on New Zealand’s clean green image that results in consumers shying away from buying New Zealand goods. It is the strong and widening rejection of all GM food products in the marketplace. The study’s market research reflects this.
The overall picture is one of demonstrable costs versus highly speculative benefits.
The study neither asks nor answers the real question: is there good reason for New Zealand to allow the release of GMOs now? Instead, it asks what might be in ten years time. Why base a decision today on what may never be realised ten years from now?
New Zealand can decide to allow a GM release at any time in the future. So why make a decision before it’s needed, especially if there is no going back? Why pave the way for GM release now in the face of the market resistance recorded by the study.
New Zealand depends on primary production for half its export income. This is five times the OECD average and makes the stakes five times higher for New Zealand in taking on GM agriculture.
The study reports that 20% to 30% of overseas buyers would cease to buy New Zealand goods if GMOs were released. This alone gives a clear indication of the huge economic risk New Zealand would take in giving up its status as a GM Free Food Producer.
Nothing to date has provided a sufficient economic justification for paving the way for GM release at this time. Conditions could change in the future but there is no point in committing early to an irreversible course.