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Non-GMO Status Helps Spur 77% Boost in New Zealand Exports

(13 September - Cropchoice News) -- In figures released yesterday, the New Zealand Organic Producers Export Association says organic exports are skyrocketing from the small island country. The Association reports a 77% rise in just the last year.

Experts say that absence of GMOs in the country is one of the reasons for the dramatic increase. According to Hugh Campbell, Director of the Centre for the Study of Agriculture at Otago University, "We have an excellent growing environment, broad public sympathy for organics, a good market image, and, so far, no GMOs."

For the one year period ending this June, the Kiwis exported over US $25 million in organic food. Mainly fruit; but also processed foods, meat, and fresh vegetables. Those are big numbers for a small country, especially considering that five years ago the organic export market was worth less than US $5 million.

New Zealand's big new buyers are Europe and the US. Europe more than doubled its purchases in the last year. The United States bought only a half million dollars worth of Kiwi organic food in 1998-99; but this year the figure shot up almost sevenfold to US 3.5 million dollars.

The market for organic, non-GMO fruit is especially strong. The figures only include certified organic crops.

New Zealand farmers are decidedly against biotech. A recent study conducted by Lincoln University found that 78% of Kiwi farmers have no intention to use GMOs (if they were available).

With organic exports posting such dramatic growth, it comes as no surprise that more Kiwi farmers are interested in organic than biotech. By way of comparison, 37% of farmers said they would like to go organic while fewer - 21% - said they would like to try biotech.

The Lincoln University researchers concluded that the best compromise position for New Zealand's farmers would be to create a large organic sector while only allowing biotech as a "minority niche" in the country.

Source: OPEA, Just-Food.com