This interview exemplifies Steffan’s courage at talking truth to power as he exposes the sham of what neoliberal agricultural policies are doing to NZ,
but he also speaks of some very good grass roots initiatives happening right across our country.
Steffan’s days as an MP are engaged and occupied
Meeting with meat inspectors - beekeepers as well as the incursions of disease through our biosecurity such as myrtle rust - he says there is always something
to do with regard to protecting our environment.
Also, that as NZ is a primary producer of food being isolated from the rest of the world, away from many global diseases that the imperative for us is
to have an alert and well funded bio security system. This has not been happening - especially over the previous years of the National Government administration.
where today we are battling to deal with numerous incursions - due to these Governmental funding cuts. Though very recently there has been a little
more funding - especially to respond to myrtle rust for example. He notes that the focussed staff at biosecurity are overworked and whilst there has
been a 70% increase in foot traffic coming through airports and ports, there is not really a commensurate increase in funding.
Myrtle rust is now a growing problem - and yet we still have no national plant control forbidding sending seedlings and plant material anywhere within
NZ. At present we are now still on the back foot in dealing with these new diseases.
It being imperative that we protect our country’s natural integrity and biodiversity.
However the main two projects that are resting with Stephen is around glyphosate and the Country of Origin - the Food Labelling Bill. This is a carry over
from the petition of 37,000 signatures that ex Green MP Sue Kedgley initiated in 2007 - that was not able to get the ‘cross party support' to make
this law. Steffan has made some slight modifications to the bill she originally drafted back then and it is now moving forward.
Steffan said that even the Labour Government in 2007 we’re not going to push it through - then not long after they were out of power they changed their
mind (consumer pressure?) or just snatching some Green policy points?
What Steffan finds is that the political acceptance to this has changed markedly because of consumers growing concerns - especially now with the ruling
National party allowing it to pass its first reading and go to a select committee. He says that as all parties voted for it - it's a very good omen
- with ACT the only party voting against it. Their reason being that they want to make a stand as being ‘always more right than that of National’ our
so called centre right - Governing Party.
He says that this Bill’s further progressing - will go through some due processes - but he said it has some interesting ’support’ behind it.
Saying that it should go through, but the window is closing before this general election - however - no matter who is in power - it should pass into Law
shortly - so this is a major blessing for food consumers here in NZ
Steffan mentioned that sometimes the universe does provide and that serendipity sometimes shows up …. listen for the rest of this.
He is also following up on the Food Safety Law Reform Bill within Parliament to get GE Food as well as irradiated food monitored and enforced as intended.
Because it has not been! So it's a wait and see situation. Because this food component has not seen the labelling of GE or Irradiated being enforced
Steffan asks readers and listeners that of they see a product that has on its label ‘GE or Irradiated’ to contact him … C/- Green Party.
It is a known that GE soy is coming into NZ - a lot of it for animal feed - some going into our bread as well as tofu. Being food for poultry and pigs.
This is an ongoing story in itself and need investigating.
Salmon Fish Farming:
Presently salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds is an increasing ecological problem. There are in some cases too many fish in too smaller confined net
area and the fish are defecating to such a degree that it is laying waste to the seabed below. Plus fish are also suffering diseases as well as general
production problems due to basically - unhealthy conditions.
Like intensive dairy farms they have far too many fish in the one space. So the fish mongers are now wanting to expand into outer lying areas of the Marlborough
Sounds where tidal flushes are better, however these are areas that they previously agreed not to go into. (They are wanting to shift the goalposts.)
Steffan notes that the industry is expansionist and every few years wants a bit more and a bit more …
50% of the world’s fish are consumed from fish farms especially in Asia. However the reason that salmon is being farmed is because we have over the years
abused the wild salmon industry here in NZ and extracted too many fish that it has not been able to sustain itself.
Here the King salmon farms feed on a mixture of anchovy caught off the South American coast - other fish waste and also animal waste from our freezing
works and more and more vegetable protein as it’s cheaper. However this feed mix changes the omega 3 and omega 6 in the makeup off the fish and it
is nowhere as good as they suggest it is. Steffan recommends that we look at other South Island salmon companies further south to source more healthier
He states this whole fish farming scenario has been a huge emotional and financial cost to NGO’s and the Marlborough Sounds residents as a result of this
particular salmon company. He says that even democracy has been compromised and that we need to be building up and restoring the wild fishery and being
majorly conscious of focussing on strong sustainability, instead of saying ‘it’s stuffed’ now let’s move on to the next unsustainable practice …
In NZ organics is growing by 10 -11% a year, however we have no government champions - in that they in many ways come close to sneering at the word ‘organic’.
Whereas in Denmark the Government has organic targets and is very supportive of the industry, that they are going to have 14% of their food growing
production organic by 2020 - and this is what we need here in NZ. Mandated targets and conscious government enthusiasm. Plus the Danes have included
pesticide reduction strategies as well.
Steffan also met with Dutch officials in the Hague and they have some very good initiatives happening in the Netherlands too. As does Germany - but these
countries are still using many pesticides as well! Austria is also pushing organics as a new way forward.
The NZ wine industry is working towards 20% organic wine by 2020 - Steffan states that they may not get there, because there is such a proliferation of
non organic grapes being produced that is diluting (no pun intended) the sector because of their increasing numbers.
Villa Maria here in NZ, a large family owned business are doing very well in this organic sector and will be 50% organic by 2020.
The so called Sustainable Wine Growing NZ group - Steffan gives them a slap - as dragging the chain and being more words than action. Having a low bar
as their target - but Steffan ever the commensurate community activist says that they have done one good thing and that is they now have ‘integrated
herbicide management’ - so instead of automatically spraying every 2 weeks they actually monitor and see the need for spraying - before they go about
But when he recently checked, and they have been around since 2007 - that last year 70% of the whole Marlborough viticulture area - and it is huge - 70%
of the surface area including just inside the gate and the headlands - not just under the vines and between the vines - was herbicided in spring as
they try and get a little 1 degree or half a degree of frost protection by having bare ground warming up in the sun and that warmth would slightly
emanate at night and thus reduce the frost a little more.
But the organic guys don’t do that, yet they still succeed just as well. So there is an outrageous level of glyphosate being sprayed to the degree with
have glyphosate resistant ryegrass there because they have been spraying it so regularly. So sustainable wine growing is not what it says it is. But
he says they are slowly lifting the bar and he applauds them as it is still only by voluntary means. In taking this further Steffan drops a bombshell
in relation to the PR that is being pushed out and that it is profoundly unethical. Listen to the interview.
There is good organic growth in the horticulture sector and pipfruit and kiwifruit.
Steffan talks about dairy and the huge price differential between ordinary conventional farming and intentional organic dairy farming. Fonterra’s last
public price for organic milk solids was around $9 per kilo whilst the non organic farmers are starting to cheer because their price has crept up to
$6 again after being around $4.
But our Minister and successive Ministers (have lacked the vision and courage) to grab this opportunity and get in behind NZ farmers and make farming more
profitable at the same time cleaning up the water and sequestering more Co2 out of the atmosphere. Why? Because they are so market infatuated - and
market forces will rule. However in Parliament Steffan was able to get National MP Ian McKelvie
the Select Committee chairperson who was keen to look at the ONZ Organic NZ market report that Brendan Hoare prepared and it was very well supported and
received at that level of Parliament.
But even today - NZ has no government regulation around the word organic and there is nothing to stop anyone calling anything organic - So here we are
2017 and we still have no legislation - (so you can see why it’s been so difficult for organics to be accepted in the public consciousness because
by far the majority of our politicians have no idea of what it signifies - what so ever.
Glyphosate - Monsanto
European Parliament: Green Members of Parliament tested for glyphosate in April 2016.
48 Green Members that took part in a symbolic urine test ahead of the European Parliament vote last month to oppose the EU Commission’s proposal to relicense
the controversial toxic substance until 2031.
The inspiration behind what was labelled the #MEPee test was the results of a recent study in Germany which found that 99.6% of people tested were found
to have glyphosate residue in their urine. According to ELISA test results from the accredited Biocheck Laboratory in Germany:
The results reveal that every MEP tested has been found to have glyphosate traces in their urine, with the average concentration being 1.73ng/ml. That
level is more than 17 times the safe limit for drinking water. The lowest level found among the group was 0.17ng/ml, almost double the safe level.
Now most Greens will be drinking the best quality water, eating organic food and yet this is what is happening. What will this do to our DNA, semen and
ovaries over time and future generations and in our babies and infants? Are you asking this question?
Steffan says that Glyphosate is made up of many other chemicals called adjuvants and thickers and spreaders and emulsifiers that go into a formula - some
of these will penetrate the waxy cuticle the skin of a leaf - there are others that will make the spray spread evenly and there is a range of different
compounds that go into a full formulation and come up with a brand name like ‘Roundup’ from Monsanto.
There are also other surfactants and formulas that are part of this concoction.
In this interview Tim mentioned that he knows of an agricultural professional in Waikato who told him that farmers wanting to clear away grass so as to
sow a summer crop. So they will spray their grass with a glyphosate product and after 4 days cows and other animals are allowed to then eat this sprayed
In checking with this professional on 26/06/17 it was reaffirmed that some of these cows will be milked and that milk becomes a dairy production commodity
- like milk, butter, cheese and milk powder. Hence Tim only sourcing organic milk products since he learnt about this a few years ago.
WeedMaster TS540 is one such product that is on the NZ market. This is what the Directions State:
After application of Weedmaster TS540 a withholding period for grazing stock is not required (except where ragwort is present). However, it is recommended
that grazing or cultivating is delayed for 1 day after treatment of annual weeds or 3 days if perennial weeds are present to ensure absorption of Weedmaster
There are 91 glyphosate based herbicide products registered in NZ but according to official information that Steffan has access to, it may only be about
80% of glyphosate products that are out there on the market within NZ.
IARC the International Agency for Research on Cancer says that Glyphosate was probably carcinogenic in humans.
http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf or see Wiki
Check POEA in Europe it is effectively banned - as one of the adjuvants was so highly toxic in its own regard - let alone as a mixture in the formulation
Also, Steffan mentions - it must not to be used as a desiccant that is sprayed on crops ahead of harvest. See above
75% of Glyphosate products in NZ have this highly banned toxic POEA adjutant in their sprays and when Steffan asked Nick Smith the Governmental Minister
in charge, what herbicide sprays in NZ have it? Nick Smith replied that he cannot allow this information into the public arena - due to commercial
The EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) is now an ‘Economic Protection Authority’
Listen to how the EPA sent a retired toxicologist to do a glyphosate report and pull apart the strengths and weakness of the IARC report (and because he
was retired he had no need to worry about future tenure) - who with his credentials was able to basically fob the report and give Glyphosate a free
pass - by stating ‘it fulfilled industry standards’ or words to this effect.
Steffan mentioned that the Official Information Act showed that there was some kind of collusion between big business and Government Agencies including
the Ministry for Primary Industries as to having edited this report as well.
Yet Steffan stated that he knows scientists here in NZ who counter all the statements that this report uses to get glyphosate off the hook. He is calling
for a thorough investigation of the EPA to the full extent of the Law.
This interview goes on to include Methyl Bromide fumigation of export logs at ports.
Steffan talks about the ongoing need for recapture of this gas instead of letting it blow away in the air stream.
This information below gives you an understanding, however due to the scope of this I Tim, as a volunteer doing this by myself am copying off the web information
that I trust will give you a greater understanding.
Port’s decision a win for workers and environment. From Scoop.co.nz
The Green Party is applauding the decision by the Ports of Auckland to require total recapture of the toxic gas methyl bromide at the port by the end of the 2017, and says other ports must now follow suit.
Exposure to a gas being used on an industrial scale at Port of Tauranga evidently doubles the risk of contracting motor neurone disease, new research has
The revelation states that methyl bromide gas to fumigate logs at the port may pose a health hazard to people in surrounding areas.
Mr Browning said the ports in Tauranga, Whangarei and Napier were "carrying the burden" of methyl bromide fumigation. Fumigators at other ports, including
Wellington, recaptured the gas after use so that it could not escape into surrounding areas.
Mr Browning of the Green Party called for a new facility to be built at the port that would allow safer fumigation.
"If it's not methyl bromide it will be something else, so we need recapture," he said. "It can't go on like it is."
Methyl bromide is used to fumigate logs for export. Exposure to the gas, when it’s not safely recaptured, can pose serious risks to people’s health and
contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
“We’re really pleased by this decision. The Green Party has been campaigning for years alongside workers, community groups and many others to end the exposure
of people to this toxic gas," said Green Party pesticide spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Methyl bromide, if inhaled, can have long-term impacts on the brain, and increase the risk of cancers and neurological issues.
Finally this interview finishes with Steffan telling us about the Security and Intelligence Bill that was pushed through NZ’s Parliament in 2013 under
urgency - at the same time that Eric Holder the US Attorney General was in NZ, along with the Attorney General’s of Canada, the UK and Australia along
with a contingent of FBI officials - all present in NZ whilst PM John Key railroaded this Law through Parliament without the deeper context of an informed
parliamentary and nation wide debate.
Watch this Eye Opening video that can also be also accessed on YouTube.
23 August 2013 in Parliament you said:
"I implore one of the 61 MPs who has previously supported this legislation to change at this vote and allow a full inquiry first. The Government has failed
to provide a real justification for this fundamental attack on our democratic rights and freedoms, and the legislation facilitates the legal establishment
of a surveillance State in New Zealand".
Steffan finally finishes with some of the highlights of his political career - his love for what he does in the organic world.
He is drawn to hands on projects that people are doing … closing the environmental loop and being so close to the land, with passion and love.
Meeting wonderful people and his love for his family and friends.
This is an important interview to be able to understand the courage and measure of this man. Download and listen, it shows that we as NZers have to be
very alert to what is happening in this land of ours.