As we bind ourselves with the TPP, so other countries will fill the need

Written By: - Date published: 5:58 pm, December 4th, 2015 - 112 comments
Categories: business, Economy, Environment, exports, farming, farming, food, sustainability, trade, uncategorized - Tags:

Insecure, insufficient and adulterated food supplies are set to become one of the major problems of the 21st century, causing societal upheaval and discontent. In Egypt and Syria, they were central elements which helped to foment revolution. In Tahrir Square, masses of anti-government protesters chanted, “Bread, Freedom, Dignity.”

But bread was first.

As NZ is a party to the TPP, our ability to restrain the use of GMOs, pesticides and other non-organic approaches to food production and ingredient sourcing is likely to become very limited. This is a shame as NZ produce has always been valued for its “clean, green” image (if not always the substance), at a time when the increasingly wealthy middle classes in rapidly growing countries like India and China become more health conscious.

By signing up to and keeping NZ in the TPP, both Labour and National are crippling the potential NZ has in this field.

Russia, still reeling from food and other sanctions placed on it by Western countries last year is using the opportunity not just to become self-sufficient in food production but to undertake a strategic journey to become a world leader in ‘ecologically clean’ organic food production.

Russia could become the world’s largest supplier of ecologically clean and high-quality organic food, said President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. He also called on the country to become completely self-sufficient in food production by 2020.

“We are not only able to feed ourselves taking into account our lands, water resources – Russia is able to become the largest world supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food which the Western producers have long lost, especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market is steadily growing,” said Putin, addressing the Russian Parliament on Thursday.

In contrast, with politicians and civil servants seemingly under the sway of trans-national corporate interests, NZ seems to be willingly surrendering this high-value, highly differentiated market to other players who have seen its possibilities.

According to Reuters/CNBC, official government pressure in Russia has seen the share of GMO foods in Russia decline from approx 12% a decade ago to virtually none today.

 

112 comments on “As we bind ourselves with the TPP, so other countries will fill the need”

  1. weka 1

    “As NZ is a party to the TPP, our ability to restrain the use of GMOs, pesticides and other non-organic approaches to food production and ingredient sourcing is likely to become very limited.”

    Can you please be more specific?

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      My expectation is that NZ will not be able to exclude or label food product ingredient imports or exports on the basis of GMO status.

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        Unless we negotiated a carve-out, that seems correct. I haven’t checked.

      • Macro 1.1.2

        That is how I understand it to be too. There are already many conditions put on the supply of new seed and that will be extended by TPP, all for the benefit of Monsanto…

        • weka 1.1.2.1

          Are you suggesting that Monsanto (or any company) can force NZ growers to use GMO seed? Or that they can try and sell it here despite any NZ law prohibiting GMO crops?

          • Macro 1.1.2.1.1

            Well that would be a restriction of trade wouldn’t it if the NZ govt persisted in banning GMO’s so I’m sure Monsanto would be off to the ISDS:

            Here is Andrew Geddis on the matter
            “If a country seizes an investment or passes new laws which make it worthless (for example, it suddenly bans a product produced in a factory owned by a foreign investor) and pays insufficient compensation, or none at all, the investor could use ISDS to bring a claim directly against that country, claiming a breach of the expropriation provision in the agreement and seeking compensation. ”
            http://pundit.co.nz/content/of-tpps-isdss-and-the-constitution

            • weka 1.1.2.1.1.1

              That’s referring to existing businesses. CV appears to be suggesting (although it’s unclear) that new businesses could start selling GMO crops here. Why not body parts, or child slaves then?

              • Macro

                That’s referring to existing businesses
                “Round up” is an existing product which is used extensively in this country. Many countries have now banned its use. Including South Africa, France, Chile, Brazil and Sri Lanka. It was banned years ago in Canada.
                http://ultraculture.org/blog/2014/04/01/5-countries-throwing-monsanto-ass/
                and
                http://theantimedia.org/more-european-countries-banning-glyphosate-monsantos-roundup/
                Under the TPP NZ could not do that.

                also – many GMO’s are developed specifically because they are as Monsanto claim “Round-up Ready”

                All the more reason for Monsanto to put pressure on NZ to introduce them.

                • weka

                  ““Round up” is an existing product which is used extensively in this country.”

                  Yes, but AFAIK it’s illegal to grow GMO crops in NZ without specific permission from the EPA. Which is what I was asking CV about, GE crops.

                  “All the more reason for Monsanto to put pressure on NZ to introduce them.”

                  Right. But that’s true whether the TPP exists or not. There is this idea that the TPP will allow companies to force contracts that don’t exist yet. I’d like to see that confirmed. I haven’t followed that closely but I thought it was only existing contracts that had to be honoured eg if Monsanto were growing crops in NZ and we tried to ban Roundup then we’d have to pay for the loss of business. Not sure if that applies to other companies using Roundup (eg if councils stop using glysphosate, can Roundup sue them?). But I don’t see how it applies to GE crops given there are so few of them in NZ currently.

                  I get the concerns, but the TPP is bad enough without overstating it’s reach.

                  • Bill

                    I believe the case of Canada seeking to ban a pre-existing, but “not for sale in Canada” US manufactured petrol additive might be a case in point. Canadian H&S found against the product. Their government department was over-ridden through a ISDS. At about the same time the EU banned the substance. No ISDS available in that case. A complaint from the company was heard in a UK court and rejected.

                    Petrol additives and GMO crops. I can’t see where any difference would lie between the two in terms of a company launching an ISDS claiming their trade was being restricted.

                    • weka

                      We already effectively have a ban in place on GE crops. Are you saying that is the same as the Canadian example (which I took to mean they tried to ban something after the agreement).

                    • Bill

                      Hmm. Could be a bit different I guess. Might say in the Canadian example that something cropped up? 😉

                    • weka

                      Or that process was well oiled ;-p

                  • Sacha

                    “There is this idea that the TPP will allow companies to force contracts that don’t exist yet. ”

                    Gives them more leverage to force concessions, regardless of the legal outcome. That’s the concern with Pharmac too.

              • greywarshark

                weka
                That’s conflating the argument surely. I thought you liked to keep coolly to the point under discussion. Just coping with the seedgod companies is bad enough without extras like body parts and child slaves entering the attempted discussion.

                • weka

                  CV appears to be saying that NZ can be forced to do X (grow GE crops) against its own existing laws. Other people have said this is true. I’m asking if that is true is it also true for other things that we have existing laws about. That doesn’t seem an unreasonable question and the examples seem relevant to the point. Use cannabis if body parts and child labour are too inflammatory.

          • AmaKiwi 1.1.2.1.2

            “Are you suggesting that Monsanto (or any company) can force NZ growers to use GMO seed? Or that they can try and sell it here despite any NZ law prohibiting GMO crops?”

            Absolutely.

            That’s the purpose of TPPA. To make American standards (or lack thereof) universal across the Pacific region.

            • weka 1.1.2.1.2.1

              AK, I’m asking how the TPP means that companies can force NZ to do either of those two things. Please explain how, in detail.

              • In the case of GM crops, anything has to go through the approval process. However, if we let something through the approval process that we shouldn’t and try to change the legislation so that we can ban it… THEN the ISDS will apply and would most likely have us paying for the privilege of writing our own law.

      • weka 1.1.3

        “My expectation is that NZ will not be able to exclude or label food product ingredient imports or exports on the basis of GMO status.”

        That’s for processing right? How does that affect growing?

        • Bill 1.1.3.1

          This example certainly applies to various consumer goods where price is impacted by standards (eg – safety standards). Just putting it out here in a GMO context for you to mull over.

          If GMO crops are cheaper for us consumers and if they are cheap enough that local non-GMO food producers are at risk of going out of business, then industry could pressure for the GMO free thing to be dropped in order to establish a level playing field.

          • weka 1.1.3.1.1

            Sure, but that situation (or potential for it) already exists and doesn’t have anything to do with the TPP.

            Pretty sure that industry pressure groups have been lobbying the NZ government all through the GE debates and processes over the last few decades. If they hadn’t, we’d have had absolute GE-free status (which is what by far the most of NZers wanted).

            • Bill 1.1.3.1.1.1

              No, the difference is that a country could, via various ploys, restrict sales of given products depending on safety regs etc. That’s now a restriction on trade and the lowest denominator will prevail…think ‘car safety regs’ that differ over countries etc.

              • weka

                Yes, trade. But not growing crops in NZ. Am I missing something here? If NZ companies want to grow GE crops in NZ they have to go through a process that is mandated by law. I assume it’s the same process for overseas companies. What you are suggesting is that that law has to be repealed because a new company wants to do a new thing (grow GE crops) in NZ. If that’s true, then why not the other examples I’ve given in this thread?

                I feel like we’re just going around in circles here. What are the various ploys specific to the TPP? Perhaps if that was made clear (the ‘how’) then it would make sense to me.

    • savenz 1.2

      TPPA not only supports Genetically Modified food (and monsanto is a big driver of TPPA) but also does not allow it to be labelled AND limits the ability to challenge at the border unsafe food.

      The limits of border control is a HUGE issue to NZ in particular as we have very few diseases here. Look at PSA virus – caused by the government changing the regulations of unmilled pollen for Kiwifruit. Under TPPA the government can be sued if they try to stop potentially diseased food coming in.

      TPPA is a race to the bottom of the lowest possible level of regulation with the highest possible regulation of litigation to stop poor, unsafe, unproven or diseased food entering each country.

      • savenz 1.2.1

        Far from being a help to an exporter of food like NZ, TPPA has the ability to actually wipe out our entire food economy by increasing our risk of bringing in diseases like Mad cow, foot and mouth, fruit fly and so forth…

        There are other issues too, like bloodstock in NZ which is disease free.

        The risks are HIGH the rewards are non existent… remind me again why we should be signing such a terrible deal to ALL the countries?

        (Oh yes, Obama’s legacy and the energy polluters need to get the governments to guarantee their existing pollution profits in case they go to clean power, etc etc ).

      • weka 1.2.2

        Can you please cite something credible to support the assertion that the TPP means NZ can be forced by companies to grow GE crops?

        I’ve now asked this multiple times in this thread and no-one has been able to either link or explain how that would happen.

        • savenz 1.2.2.1

          “Under the TPP, food labels could also be challenged as “trade barriers.” The TPP would impose limits on labels providing information on where a food product comes from. The TPP also would endanger labels identifying genetically modified foods and labels identifying how food was produced. The TPP would expand the limits on consumer labels already included in existing
          http://www.citizen.org/tpp-food-safety-facts

          “trade” agreements, like the World Trade Organization (WTO). But already under the WTO, the U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna fish label and our country-of-origin meat labels have been successfully attacked by other countries. And, under the TPP, a foreign meat processing or food corporation operating within the United States could directly challenge our policies that they claim undermine their expectations – meaning a barrage of new demands for taxpayer compensation.”

          “Under the TPP, any U.S. food safety rule on pesticides, labeling or additives that is higher than international standards would be subject to challenge as “illegal trade barriers.” The U.S. could be required to eliminate these rules and allow in the unsafe food under threat of trade sanctions.

          The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already inspects less than 1% of all seafood imports for health hazards. Entering into the TPP with Malaysia and Vietnam, both TPP negotiating parties and major seafood exporters, would increase seafood imports and further overwhelm inspectors’ limited ability to ensure the safety of our food. Some TPP countries have serious shrimp and fish safety issues. For example, even with the minimal inspections, high levels of contaminants have been found in Vietnam’s seafood.”

          • weka 1.2.2.1.1

            That doesn’t answer my question. Can you please go and reread what I have said in this thread. I am asking specifically how GROWING GE CROPS could be forced in NZ due to the TPP. Sorry for shouting, but I feel I have been clear on this and everyone is answering questions I haven’t asked.

            CV in his post implied that NZ could be forced to grow GE crops. I’d like to know how the TPP makes that true. Labelling for international markets is a different issue. The link you provide is talking about food imports, not growing food domestically.

            • savenz 1.2.2.1.1.1

              @Weka – I’ll try to find the link for you. I think it is to do with the competition clause that means that TPPA signatories can not dis allow practises that are recognised internationally. i.e. if you want to plant a GM crop the local council or government can not stop you, as this would be considered anti competitive and stopping some ones rights to a profit.

              In addition this is a ‘living’ agreement too, whereby clauses can be continually added to the agreement by the signatories.

              And the US can also somehow add clauses in post the agreement as well.

              http://justinvestment.org/2014/08/tppa-shocking-us-certification-process-that-violates-countrys-sovereignty/

              • savenz

                @Weka

                Interesting link – our ability to market our GMO-free status under threat as well as a whole host of other issues.

                http://www.iatp.org/blog/201511/tpp-fine-print-biotech-seed-companies-win-again

                “Of the TPP countries, Brunei, Malaysia, Mexico and New Zealand are not yet members of the UPOV 91. Chile is also not yet a member, though it is already required to become a member under a previous Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. Under the TPP, these countries could face major changes to laws and rules that protect farmers’ rights when it comes to plant breeding and seed saving. The TPP IPR chapter also requires any additional countries that join the TPP to become members of UPOV 91. Countries currently considering joining the TPP include South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan—none of which are members of UPOV 91.”

                “Strong opposition may also arise in New Zealand, which currently has not approved any GMO crops for commercialization, requires any imported GMO foods to be labeled, and uses its GMO-free status as an export marketing tool. Brunei is just developing its regulatory framework for GMO crops.”

                • weka

                  Our ability to market our GE-free status internationally.

                  And sorry, but that assertion still doesn’t explain HOW this could be done.

                • savenz

                  @Weka

                  http://press.gefree.org.nz/press/20151008.htm

                  “New Zealand depends on its clean green image and markets its GE-free status as a positive feature overseas. The damage to our national reputation could amount to a loss of billions of dollars over the years.

                  The loss to New Zealand agriculture is likely to be much more than the $256 million expected to be gained by the removal of tariffs [6].”

                  • weka

                    lolz, ok, I give up. (your quote about the effect on NZ’s exports is irrelevant to my question. I’m asking HOW the TPP countries can force us to grow GE crops).

                    • savenz

                      Weka our farm land is already being sold from under us, with TPP then any corporation can challenge local rules under the ISDS scheme.

                      Ie they can challenge in court NZ GE status – just like tobacco is currently challenging plain packaging in Australia which has cost 50 million to the government so far in legal action.

                    • weka

                      Tobacco companies had business already in existence before the Australian government decided to bring in new laws. That’s different to the situation with GE in NZ.

                      Under what law/court are the tobacco companies challenging the Australian govt?

              • weka

                Thanks. I’d like to see some evidence because it’s not quite making sense to me.

                “i.e. if you want to plant a GM crop the local council or government can not stop you, as this would be considered anti competitive and stopping some ones rights to a profit.”

                Ok, so would this apply to child labour? Or harvesting organs? Growing cannabis? Opium? Where’s the limit if it’s not countries’ existing laws?

                • savenz

                  @ Weka – the agreement is 6000 pages for a reason. If it was about ‘removing tariffs’ then a few pages can suffice. It is not about that it is about deregulating countries rules and regulations and having a separate court to arbitrate it. Monsanto is one of the leaders of the TPPA so that gives you an example of the motivation within the agreement.

                  TPPA would only apply to internationally legal things now, such as GMO which is legal in the US not child labour, harvesting organs, cannabis etc which are currently not legal internationally:)

                  However minimum wages could potentially be subject to legal action.
                  Currently in Wyoming, USA the minimum wage is $5.15 so that can give an idea of where NZ wages could go, even without the 65 cents minimum wages in Vietnam.

                  If you feel you are having financial difficulty on the current NZ minimum wage, then think what is going to happen under TPP.

                  • weka

                    Cannabis is legal in the US. Child labour appears to be practiced in Malaysia (although I couldn’t find the legal status of that). Two TPP signatories.

                    Not sure what you mean by legal internationally.

            • Macro 1.2.2.1.1.2

              The fact is weka that Monsanto has very deep pockets and is very litigious… not only in the states
              http://gmwatch.org/news/archive/2014/15760-monsanto-and-dow-sue-maui-county-over-gmo-cultivation-ban
              but in other countries as well. The TPPA gives them the opportunity to start legal proceedings under ISDS (which incidentally are not in a court of law but 3 chosen corporate lap dogs). At this very moment they are attempting to overturn mexican law banning GMO’s
              http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/20/monsanto-and-dupont-lose-initial-appeals-over-mexico-gm-maize-ban/#.VmJfbnt8g7A
              The TPPA will make it much easier for them and NZ hasn’t quite the same depth of pocket as Monsanto.

              • weka

                The upholding of the ban adds to a growing list of victories that includes the multinational corporation Monsanto, which last week saw its latest appeal rejected unanimously. On Wednesday February 25, the DuPont Corporation also lost an appeal. The class action case faces one more juridical review but there are an additional five amparos pending over limits the corporations seek, in effect, to block verifiable and effective application of precautionary measures previously ordered by the courts.

                That article appears to be saying that Monsanto can’t force Mexico to allow it to grow GE crops. Also, I think that Mexico allowed GE corn and then banned it, so that makes sense in terms of the TPP (Monsanto can argue that they’re being denied business they’ve already invested in).

                In that article the actions are being heard in domestic courts, so it’s not clear that this is an ISDS dispute. Do you know?

                I’m open to being wrong about this, but I still don’t see the evidence for NZ being forced into repealing laws that existed before the TPP was signed.

            • greywarshark 1.2.2.1.1.3

              weka
              There seems a difficulty in the opinionated commenters here to actually point to facts that presumably they know, and should be able to quote chapter and verse.

              Here is one from anti-GE group:
              http://itsourfuture.org.nz/trade-deal-threatens-farmers-and-food-businesses/
              “In essence the secret free trade agreement could be signed under the proviso that legislation will be changed to allow New Zealand to grow GE crops,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ (in food and environment)….

              The Ministry of Primary Industries is drafting changes to the HSNO regulations defining what a GMO is, and potentially subverting oversight and avoiding regulation. The changes could go even further, by mirroring the “Monsanto Bill” in Guatemala….

              “By advocating to remove the zero tolerance for transgenic seeds through changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) legislation, they are kneecapping Brand New Zealand’s competitive position in the world market” said Claire Bleakley.

              Our unique reputation is based around producing healthy, safe high-quality food for consumers. More and more companies like Sanitarium and Goodman Fielder have sought to source all their ingredients as GE-free, using a verified segregated “non-GM” supply chain.
              However companies around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to source corn or soy that is uncontaminated, and look to countries such as New Zealand as a source of clean ingredients.

              And from Malcolm Eves a retired Hawkes Bay financial advisor:-
              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503459&objectid=11365319
              A sovereign country that attempts to enforce its laws against an American corporation can be sued by the corporation for “restraint of trade”.
              For example, New Zealand benefits from being a GE Free food producer. If Monsanto wants to sell GMO seeds in New Zealand or US corporations wish to sell genetically modified foods in New Zealand, and New Zealand enforces any laws against GMOs, the TPP allows New Zealand (or “GE Free” regions) to be sued in jurisdictions outside the courts of New Zealand for “restraint of trade”.

              and
              http://www.nationofchange.org/trans-pacific-partnership-and-monsanto-1372074730
              The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits….
              There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text….
              The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed. Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food. Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs. This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia….
              Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated 90% of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam. Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto’s product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another 2 million with various diseases….
              With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.

              Note: The sentence in bold say that the references to food systems and safety are woven throughout the text rather than in a specific chapter for agriculture. Food, our most important need. Or is it water – what does This Pernicious Piece of Abuse say about that?

              The full text is apparently in this link.
              http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Treaties-and-International-Law/01-Treaties-for-which-NZ-is-Depositary/0-Trans-Pacific-Partnership-Text.php
              I started a word search on GMO and found none.
              Then I looked for Agriculture and it alternated between USA and Japan about four times.
              Changed to New Zealand and the first thing I came on was Tariff Elimination Rules (or similar wording). I thought – the usual suspects!
              Have no time for further searching.

  2. billmurray 2

    I fully support Labour walking away from the TPPA and making it a “point of difference” with National at the 2017 election but Labour are still having a ‘dollar each-way’ with the voters on the matter. By being both ‘for and against’ TPPA Labour is spreading confusion and idiocy in the electorate mind and they still bemoan their stalemate in the polls. The Greens do not want to ratify TPPA but Labour who need the Greens to form a coalition government are sitting on their hands whilst Rome burns. Who in their right mind could trust Labour with a government mandate.

    • AmaKiwi 2.1

      Because Labour prides itself on being a “broad church.” To maintain caucus consensus, they are reduced to the lowest common denominator which is zero. Do nothing.

      • Macro 2.1.1

        I think you just nailed it there! And that is exactly the philosophy of National too. National’s only driving “principle” is do nothing to upset the economy (ie make sure that we are alright), Labour, are now, not so far from them, however – to be charitable – they are more inclusive as to who constitutes “we”.

      • Chris 2.1.2

        That’s right. Labour stands for nothing. The Nothing Party. They need to be honest with the public about this and say clearly to everyone that they stand for nothing in order to make room for a party that stands for what Labour stood for 30 years ago.

        • Chris 2.1.2.1

          This would also have the added benefit of allowing those current Labour supporters who know that Labour stands for nothing to continue to vote for nothing and for those who haven’t caught up yet to vote for a party that stands for what Labour stood for 30 years ago.

        • greywarshark 2.1.2.2

          All this standing! We are in earthquake territory here, nothing is steady and reliable since the neo-liberal termites took over, and ate away our regulations, our inspectors, our controls on shoddy workmanship in favour of being fast and high flyers.

      • That’s the general gist of it.

        The more specific gist is that while the left wing of the party despises the TPPA, (perhaps a bit over-broadly, a few parts of the agreement are good, but unfortunately the rest of it is so bad it’s like trying to eat cereal someone’s puked in) the right wing of the party has a very significant faction of “trade liberals” who basically haven’t met a FTA they don’t like, who would likely walk away from the party (largely to its benefit) if it outright came out against the TPPA completely without some nuance.

        Not that nuance is bad in general, it’s simply that Labour has not come out swinging against all the parts of TPPA that are bad. Their reservations on the deal are hugely insufficient, but if they DO decide to be clear that they’re opposing it eventually, (or even proposing withdrawing from it if elected) then they get points for coming to the right conclusion.

    • savenz 2.2

      @Bill Murray – +100 – its called blind neoliberal ideology plus, there is a TRADE DEAL not good but DONT MISS OUT!

      Gets them every time.

      • Tautuhi 2.2.1

        Nationals stance on the TPPA is just sign it and worry about it later, just like Asset Sales just sell them and move on, they don’t actually think about the long term consequences of these decisions.

        A 6000 page legal document ?

        I wonder how many lawyers in NZ have studied it thoroughly and understood the ramifications of this document ?

        Why doesn’t Q + A get Key and Groser on their show live and ask them some pertinant questions after all they are the ones signing the document ?

        • Leftie 2.2.1.1

          @Tautuhi

          +1000

        • greywarshark 2.2.1.2

          Tautuhi
          Q. How many lawyers does it take to screw a country?
          A. (I can’t think of anything sharp enough. Anyone?)

          With certain exceptions to the above: Micky Savage etc.

  3. Michael 3

    CV, why do you post about Russia so much? I think you’ve been watching too much RT.

    And GMOs don’t need to be banned, they aren’t unhealthy. The left should not be anti-science on GMOs like the right is anti-science on climate change.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      GMOs represent a systemic danger to the ecosystem.

      The science behind GMOs is driven by corporate greed and corporate shareholder profits.

      Russian scientists understand this and their leaders are acting on it.

      Why are you such a proponent of this adulterated, untested food?

      • Michael 3.1.1

        I personally support compulsory GMO labelling so that people who don’t want to buy/eat them don’t have to. But I don’t think there is strong enough scientific evidence to warrant a ban.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          You’re looking at this from the wrong perspective. You want to wait until there is evidence of systemic and permanent ecological damage before acting? How does this make sense?

          Why open our ecosystem to risks like this for the sake of corporate profit?

          • Kiwiri 3.1.1.1.1

            Do check out Nassim Taleb and colleagues on the application of the Precautionary Principle to GMOs.

        • The scientific evidence is that there is currently nothing harmful about existing GMO crops, true.

          However, there are still two good reasons not to use them.

          One is the problem of contamination. If anything subtle goes wrong with a GMO organism that isn’t grown in a clean lab, it’s pretty likely to escape where it’s being grown and spread before it can be destroyed. The obvious failures and disasters will likely be contained, but on the precautionary principle, would you really want to risk a subtle failure getting out and causing damage to the ecosystem somehow?

          Secondly, GMOs don’t market well. Wherever they’re required to be labelled, GMO products do not sell. Why would we want to have any GMO crops or animals in New Zealand and risk cross-contamination when GMO-free is a positive marketing value?

        • greywarshark 3.1.1.3

          I think Michael wants to be a cute furry thing with spots – a guinea- pig. Which would be preferable being a guineapig with spots or just being oneself with unexplained spots from some allergic reaction.

          And GMO labelling – reading the label takes time if you need to do it with each item. And actually finding the wording you are looking for and then deciphering the spider writing with the important information. And have you ever watched a parent shopping, have they got time to study, while the children dash round and pull things off shelves or get bored and break into the food?

          The average person can’t imagine the mendacity of the country’s leaders and directors of departments. People think they do their job with full information applied to ensure the best outcomes for people. They would never recommend anything that could harm.

          And then there’s the drift of pollen into an innocent grower’s own crop and being sued for possession of proprietary pollen, or someone racing round their crop with Roundup and you notice all the other plants dying within two days instead of the usual week. And the lack of bees which have succumbed to a diet of chemicals like Roundup and a sprinkling of nicotinoids? on top. Not strictly GMO but part of the arsenal against Nature and your fellow man, woman, child and bee, butterfly, cat, or dog or…..

    • One Two 3.2

      And GMOs don’t need to be banned, they aren’t unhealthy

      You can’t prove that GMO are not unhealthy

      Simple risk assesment renders your comment to junk status

    • maui 3.3

      Unless you want to be eating food crops that have been genetically modified so they can be drenched in Roundup and still grow I would be very wary of GM. Roundup is now being banned from use across Europe because of health concerns.

      If Fonterror came up with a new milk that they said had double the calcium with a caveat that they had played around with the genetic makeup, I’m not how many would be keen to go for it.

      • Tautuhi 3.3.1

        Interesting question marks are starting to arise about glysophate (Round Up) toxicity, could be a major if proven. Unfortunately with agricultural chemicals toxicity problems only tend to appear 20-30 years after the product has been released onto the market?

        Genetic engineering is another story and the long term effects will not be understood for another 20-30 years, we need to proceed with caution and make sure we do not lose the genetic seed/gene pool we already have.

        Interferring with nature and the use of chemicals in the environment I believe is causing major health problems in the 1st world countries ie bowel and breast cancer here in NZ where we have some of the highest rates in the Western World.

    • Macro 3.4

      It’s not so much the suspicion of adulterated food – although that is a factor. (Why is the precautionary principle never applied for example? It’s more a case of let’s just wait and see how it affects people.)
      There are all the environmental issues as well, mono culture, the degradation of the genetic base, the loss of species, almost all these new seeds are developed with the use of herbicide (roundup) in mind, with all the consequent problems associated with that, and there are many.
      But underlying all of this are the weazel words that all this is really to help feed the poor, when actually nothing could be further from the truth. The only people to gain from these new seeds are not the farmers or the poor, but the corporations who supply the seeds, fertilizers, and herbicides, manly Monsanto.
      All these are issues of the left, and so it is not being anti science to campaign against the impoverishment of farmers by corporations placing inequitable restrictions on farmers. It’s not anti science to see the dangers of monoculture and ecological degradation, it’s not anti science to point out that the persistent use of herbicides kills earthworms, and bees, and other soil organisms, upon which we depend for the maintenance of healthy soils.

      • AmaKiwi 3.4.1

        I was watching a documentary from the “good old days.” People were being drenched with DDT, which they were told was as harmless as baby powder.

        Then we had Agent Orange.

        Today DuPont is losing massive lawsuits in Ohio and West Virginia because the waste from their Teflon factory has poisoned a thousand square miles of farmland and its ground water (reference: The Intercept).

        The TPPA wasn’t written by the International Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Friends of the Earth, Save the Children, etc. It was written by the meanest people for the meanest motives.

        • Macro 3.4.1.1

          Yep! It’s all very short term, once over lightly thinking, with regard any new product, or silver bullet for this, that, or the other thing. Sometimes I think as I get old (and more grumpy) “maybe the Luddites were onto something?”
          I’ve banged on about plastic bags here before – but really – when you look at the environmental damage that this, supposedly benign product, has caused; you wonder – “what the F**K are we doing to this planet?”

  4. Once was Tim 4

    @ CV – looking at the headline – I presume you mean there are other nations (such as BRIC countries – but not necessarily them) waiting in the wings to fill the needs of the many when the inevitable happens? (Question Mark).
    Pardon me if that sounds a bit fik, but if that is what you mean then I’d agree.

    Right now politicians (predominantly the Right), more more generally, seem to unwittingly be putting themselves in a place (perhaps I mean ‘SPACE’) that will ensure they become totally irrelevant in Joe and Josephine’s thinking.

    For example (but more broadly), Labour seems determined to alienate itself from its base, te Natzis never really did understand the concept of representative demockeracy (and choose every opportunity to defeat it), and the Greens ….. well they’re becoming harder to explain as the days go by (I mean ffs – imagine appointing a corporatist as a so called Leader – and imagining that is somehoe going to turn out OK)
    Not much left really is there! What i do care about however is the idea of self-determination (and sovereignty) – firstly locally, secodly regionally, and then (AND ONLY YHEN) globally.
    It’s scary to think which political party comes closest to that concept.
    One thing is for sure tho’ …… Labour ain’t getting a vote UNTIL, and ONLY until they prove themselves committed to their founding principles and a GENUINE concern for the least well off in whatever society emerges.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Labour is a political vehicle that was hijacked 30-40 years ago, first for a completely different ideology than it was founded on (neoliberalism), and since then that crew has been replaced with a wishy washy careerist lot for whom keeping their positions and getting power is the main motivator.

      Sincerity, genuineness, authenticity around left wing ideology are therefore not things you will see out of Labour or out of Andrew Little.

      • Tautuhi 4.1.1

        Labour lost it’s way in the 1980’s and has never recovered, however NZ needs Labour to get it’s act together otherwise we will have another 3-6 years of the neo-liberal Nact Party!

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          I agree that’s what NZ needs from Labour, but it’s not possible.

        • Kiwiri 4.1.1.2

          More like Labour is gettings its ACT together ? heh.

          • greywarshark 4.1.1.2.1

            Kiwiri
            Too Right!

            and Chooky
            Good if Labour was sitting on a picket fence. Maybe when they get called to answer for their crimes of omission and commission, they will be forced to do that for hours, suffering the sort of non-torture (according to the west) that the Guantanamo Bay prisoners did.

  5. Chooky 5

    +100… good post CV…New Zealand should not be signing the TPP …thus far NZF and the Greens are against signing

    the NZLP as per usual is sitting on the fence …and will probably go along with signing it like Jonkey nactional

    • Leftie 5.1

      @Chooky say that to the National government. It doesn’t matter to National what the other parties think, like us, Labour and the opposition do not have a say in it. National’s executive are wanting to sign it off. Most other TPPA countries are putting it to a parliamentary vote, why is John key refusing to do that here?

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        It doesn’t matter to National what the other parties think, like us, Labour and the opposition do not have a say in it.

        Labour can still bloody OPPOSE the TPPA instead of caving.

        And they can commit to exiting the TPPA when they take power.

        Instead of co-operating with National’s plans.

        • Leftie 5.1.1.1

          And then what CV? it won’t stop National’s executive from signing it off, will it? All those who oppose the TPPA should be putting pressure on the current National government, not wasting time tearing the Labour party apart, who like us have NO SAY in it whatsoever.

          • savenz 5.1.1.1.1

            @Leftie – of course Labour has a say in it. They can say they agree with it or not. Yes we know National bought it in, we know National are going to sign it, but the Greens and NZ First have a clear opinion on TPPA – don’t sign it.

            Labour have not been able to say yes or no, which is actually more of a cop out than all the other parties, arguably including the Natz.

            Labour don’t have a say in Christmas Island either, but still have a clear position on it, and have travelled to Christmas Island and had talks with the OZ PM about it. Nope it is not their decision but they have influence on it.

            So their excuse can’t be ‘We can do nothing on TPPA so we will not do anything” does not wash.

            • Chooky 5.1.1.1.1.1

              +100 savenz…well said

              …we have a gutless neolib Labour Party…which does not deserve to be called a Labour Party….it is a watered down version of jonkey nact

              • Leftie

                Well you would say that Chooky, you have made your hate for the Labour party well known. Does it help? Does it change what the current National government are doing? Does it hold the current National government to account?

                What we really have here is a gutless self serving corrupt neolib National government that has largely placed itself above our laws and away from any kind of accountability, even from people like you.

                • Chooky

                  @ ‘Leftie'(?)…as you are such a sycophant of Andrew Little …read this…Little and Labour could have done a lot more to oppose the TPPA…

                  ‘Flouting The Rules: Why has Andrew Little rejected a winning TPPA strategy for a guaranteed loser?’

                  http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2015/10/14/flouting-the-rules-why-has-andrew-little-rejected-a-winning-tppa-strategy-for-a-guaranteed-loser/

                  • Leftie

                    @Chooky, yes you would say that too, but I am not a sycophant of Andrew Little, and not everyone holds the same opinion as Chris Trotter, who is a big fan of John Key, and is as anti Labour as you are.

                    Still nothing on the sell out National government and it’s TPPA then.

                    • Chooky

                      plenty has been said on the sellout of the jonkey Nactional government ….we just dont expect the Labour Party to support them

                      ( quit the disingenuous pretence)

                      …as for Chris Trotter being a big fan of John Key…this is an outright lie and if you have anything to back it up …i suggest you do so

                      (imo you are not a ‘Leftie’ at all …wolves in sheeps clothing and all that)

                    • Chris

                      And a fucking idiot, to boot.

                      [lprent: Read the policy. Pointless abuse is unwelcome. I can’t see a point in this comment. ]

                  • Chooky

                    @ Chris…’Leftie’ is a bit like punching the tar baby…this tar baby is into quantity and lies rather than quality of argument

                    …in other words search for truth /facts is not where ‘Leftie’ is at …but rather defending the indefensible and having the last word

                    imo ‘Leftie’ is a waste of time

                    • Leftie

                      Well that’s pointless abuse Chooky, just in case you missed this comment posted earlier. In regards to your comment further above that I am unable to leave a reply on, “plenty has been said on the sellout of the jonkey Nactional government” but not really by you Chooky, and as for “we just dont expect the Labour Party to support them” as yet Labour have not made a decision on the TPPA.

                      “( quit the disingenuous pretence)” maybe you follow your own advice.

                      “…as for Chris Trotter being a big fan of John Key…this is an outright lie and if you have anything to back it up …i suggest you do so”

                      In the last 7 years Chris Trotter has often wrote glowingly of John key, and there have only been about afew articles in the vast swathes of anti Labour pieces where he has shown annoyance at John key’s bad behaviour.
                      Chris Trotter even made John Key his pick for New Zealander of the year.
                      <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/chris-trotter/9565227/New-Zealander-of-the-Year

                      “(imo you are not a ‘Leftie’ at all …wolves in sheeps clothing and all that)”

                      I don’t think you are in a position to judge anyone on how left they are. At least I am not using lines from RWNJ’s to argue with, like you do.

                    • Chris

                      That’ll learn ’em, Leftie! You’re on fire!

            • Leftie 5.1.1.1.1.2

              You don’t get it Savenz, John Key is refusing to put it to a parliamentary vote, Labour, like us, DO NOT HAVE A SAY IN IT. It doesn’t matter one iota to John key what NZF, Greens or Labour says, and Labour have not made a decision on it yet, that’s their call, it’s not a cop out to be fully informed before they make their decision publicly known. National’s executive are the ones who want to sign it off, it’s no excuse when Labour said they can’t stop what National are doing. To repeat, Labour like us, have no say in it, John key made sure of that. You should be asking why is NZ not talking the TPPA for a parliamentary vote like most other TPPA countries are? All it would take is for one country not to ratify it and the whole deal is off.

              Labour were doing their job to highlight the abuse of human rights and a gutless John key sitting on his hands when it comes to standing up for NZers. Did anything change for the better? What influence are you talking about?

          • Chris 5.1.1.1.2

            You’re right, leftie, Labour has no say in anything because they’re such a fucking hopeless opposition.

            • Leftie 5.1.1.1.2.1

              No surprise with that comment Chris. Was National hopeless when they were in opposition?

              Why won’t John Key and his National government put the TPPA to a parliamentary vote? Doesn’t seem democratic, does it?

              • Chris

                I despise the National party and everything it stands for. I think Key is a nasty operator and his behaviour around the TPPA is just one example amongst many that shows that. But I’m not going to be told to shut up about Labour’s hopelessness as an opposition and that I need to be state the obvious about how fucked the government is.

                Your analysis is unbelievably shallow and superficial. You assume that criticising Labour is akin to giving National a free pass. Well, my friend, it’s actually the other way around. By failing to hold Labour to account as an effective opposition we’re giving Key and his mates a free pass. And that is what you’re doing and if you really did want to oust this horrible government you’d be doing all you could to make sure Labour woke up and started doing its job.

                • Chooky

                  +100 Chris

                  • Leftie

                    -100 Chris.

                  • Leftie

                    @Chooky. In regards to your comment further above that I am unable to leave a reply on, “plenty has been said on the sellout of the jonkey Nactional government” but not really by you Chooky, and as for “we just dont expect the Labour Party to support them” as yet Labour have not made a decision on the TPPA.

                    “( quit the disingenuous pretence)” maybe you follow your own advice.

                    “…as for Chris Trotter being a big fan of John Key…this is an outright lie and if you have anything to back it up …i suggest you do so”

                    In the last 7 years Chris Trotter has often wrote glowingly of John key, and there have only been about afew articles in the vast swathes of anti Labour pieces where he has shown annoyance at John key’s bad behaviour.
                    Chris Trotter even made John Key his pick for New Zealander of the year.
                    <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/chris-trotter/9565227/New-Zealander-of-the-Year

                    “(imo you are not a ‘Leftie’ at all …wolves in sheeps clothing and all that)”

                    I don’t think you are in a position to judge anyone on how left they are. At least I am not using lines from RWNJ’s to argue with, like you do.

                    • Chris

                      Thanks for brightening up my otherwise work-filled afternoon, Leftie. You’re a gift that keeps on giving.

                • Leftie

                  @Chris, why don’t you show it then? and no one is telling you to shut up about Labour, but be constructive, how about playing fair by speaking out about the National government, they are the ones signing the TPPA, not the Labour party, and while you tear Labour apart you ARE giving National a free pass, because you are not discussing National and highlighting what they are doing are you?
                  Breaking news dude, Labour is NOT the government, National is. So how does slagging off Labour at every opportunity, while saying nothing about National hold the National government to account ?

                  Was National hopeless while being in opposition for 9 years? Have the opposition ever truly been effective in our political history?

                • Korero Pono

                  +100 Chris

          • Chris 5.1.1.1.3

            Thanks Clem.

  6. Tautuhi 6

    Not sure about this GMO stuff from my experience nature always wins, ie chemical resistant weeds and fungi. Similar to human resistance to penicillin, only time will tell.

    Corporate profit making is definitely behind GMO’s.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    I wouldn’t bet the farm on the organic purity of Russian produce either – Russian oligarchs do what they please, and if food purity especially offshore were to suffer they wouldn’t lose much sleep over it.

    GMOs will be safeish one day – when they concentrate on low risk non-contentious applications like lysine synthesis or pharmaceuticals rather than terminator genes and herbicide tolerance. About a generation away, unless there’s a major screwup.

    • weka 7.1

      If Russia wants to export organically produced food, like everywhere else it will need growers that are certified under a scheme that reports to IFOAM, the international certification body. Places like Europe aren’t going to accept a container of food labelled ‘organic’, it will need to be certified.

      As for internal consumption, the sustainability and food resiliency movements now work with concepts of moving in the right direction rather than concepts of purity. So producing local, spray-free, organic and beyond organic are all on a continuum with the intention of supporting best practice. Russia producing all its own food with the intention of that food being ‘clean’ is revolutionary compared to NZ which still only manages a 10 or 15% organic rate (I’m guessing) but still imports large amounts of food. This makes us vulnerable to oil shocks, GFC, PO and AGW.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      I wouldn’t bet the farm on the organic purity of Russian produce either – Russian oligarchs do what they please, and if food purity especially offshore were to suffer they wouldn’t lose much sleep over it.

      Putin has no problem jailing Billionaire Oligarchs who undermine his strategies.

      • Stuart Munro 7.2.1

        Quite – but is Putin’s strategy organic food or the claim of organic food? Key’s carbon position in Paris shows that claims are cheap.

        Russia may not have gone down the GMO path but their regulation of agricultural poisons is an unknown. If they have treated the hazard the way they have radioactivity there are likely to be pretty serious problems.

        • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1

          Yep fair criticism…time will tell if its just hot air akin to our “Knowledege Economy” or “Jobs Summit”.

          • Stuart Munro 7.2.1.1.1

            The interwebs point to declining pesticide use in Russia in the 90s (Russia was broke) but pesticide use is growing at over 20% a year, and Russia now manufactures most of its own. Could go either way.

  8. Scottie 8

    Fantastic post with informative opinions. It strikes me the National government has taken the same approach with TTP as the corporates have with GMOs. Let’s just do it and see what happens. All the worse when the public has not been given all the information about TTP to take part in the decision.

  9. savenz 10

    http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=5411

    (info on food and TPP)

    also quite funny reading about TPP from a right wing American perspective. (who are also against TPP for similar reasons in many cases but from a different ideological perspective).

    “Unfortunately, some of the loudest critics on this score are notorious leftists who regularly parade against capitalism. Republican leaders have been able to use that fact as a reason to disregard the compelling evidence that these criticisms of TPP/TTIP are solidly based. First of all, it is important to note that in most cases the big, international mega-corporations long ago ceased to consider themselves American companies and also long ago ceased to favor free enterprise capitalism: They are corporate welfare drones, the masters of government bailouts, government loans, government subsidies, government contracts. They are little different from the giant State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) or “private” corporations owned by communist princelings and commissars in China and Russia.

    This is especially evident in the lineup of globalist corporations behind the TPP/TTIP: Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Dow Chemical, Unilever, Chevron, Caterpillar, UPS, Walmart, Chase, Citi — and a bevy of Big Business coalitions: Global Business Dialogue, Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Transatlantic Policy Network, Atlantic Council, and more. These are “crony capitalists,” not free enterprise capitalists; they prefer to use the power of government rather than innovation, risk, and excellence to prosper. Many of these corporations and associations have their representatives working directly with the TPP/TTIP negotiators, and they are the “cleared” elites that get privileged access to the documents you and I don’t get to see, and our elected representatives only access under extreme controls.”

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/21010-10-reasons-why-you-should-oppose-obamatrade

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