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Moratorium lifting will cost more than flatulence tax

"Farmers worried about the cost of the flatulence tax need to think about the much greater cost of GE if the moratorium is removed," said David Wright, Secretary of the Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association.

"Their overseas and local customers don't want GE in their food chain. Compliance costs are likely to fall on farmers who'll have to show that their products are GE free, or haven't been fed on GE crops," he said.

Organic farmers know about the costs of separating different types of produce; they have to manage it all the time. Organic farmers are the canary in the mineshaft; they are already experiencing the cost of showing that all their inputs are GE free. What they are experiencing now will fall on other farmers on a larger scale if the moratorium is lifted.

One route these costs may take is through pasture to plate product tracking schemes that more and more NZ producers are signing up to. It will be easy for the customers to ask for questions about GE to be added to the audit forms. It's just a few extra ticks on an audit form but it's real cost to the farmer.

If agricultural trade is liberalised, the temptation to add new requirements as technical barriers to trade will become greater. As overseas customers already don't want GE in their food, this will again just be more cost to the farmer.

As New Zealand is highly dependent on agriculture for its export earnings, an extra cost to the farmer will become an extra cost to us all.

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