Some New Zealand shoppers of organic produce are concerned about the ambiguity of proposed organic legislation, which does not define what organic means. The Organic Products Bill making its way through primary production select committee, could see the principles of organic food production corrupted unless it was amended, some consumers say.
New Zealand is only one of two exporting countries in the world that does not have national standards to define organics, Organics Aotearoa New Zealand said in its 2018 organic market report.
Organics Aotearoa, producers and consumers have been asking the Government to provide minimum standards to protect the industry from greenwashing, and attract investment and exports.
Organic farmer Claire Bleakley said getting the bill right was important because any standards would be informed by the legislation. Therefore, the inclusion of a definition and a statement of organic principles in the bill was vital, she said.
Last week, organic producers and others criticised the bill for these omissions and because it would duplicate existing certification systems making it more costly. According to the majority of submissions, a major bone of contention was that the bill did not prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic food.
The global umbrella organisation for the organic movement, Ifoam, says globally, all organic regulations prohibit the use of GMOs in organic products. Many select committee submissions argued there was already an internationally accepted definition of organic that could be plugged into the bill.