Wilkinson promised to Amend the Bill using a Supplementary Order Paper, in a letter to Green MP Sue Kedgley on August 3, 2011 (see note 1).
Wilkinson has not yet made an amendment, according to a search of such papers for “Food Bill” here. In fact, she would not normally do so until the Bill was put to a Second Reading in Parliament. And a second reading of the Bill has been delayed until after the election.
We predict that in the new government Wilkinson will be removed from her Cabinet position of Minister for Food Safety and will use this fact to pass on the responsibility for any Amendment to her successor. Her successor will not table any such amendment, and further will never have promised to do so. So it won’t happen. Then Wilkinson will be off the hook, and the Bill will go through as it is on the matter of seeds.
If Wilkinson did honour her promise, however, it would mean that seed sharing within networks could continue without prohibitive regulation. Networks are essential for seed sharing to succeed in its chief aim – to preserve seed lines so that organic/heritage foods are not lost.
If seed lines are lost they will, in the present agribusiness context, ‘naturally’ be replaced with big-business hybrid or GMO varieties. These are difficult / illegal to save seed from, so you have to keep buying more. It’s a nice business model, and the Food Bill serves it brilliantly. It’s also a serious issue for growers in light of any further ‘accidental’ financial collapses, when they might have no money to buy seed.
So the key question is will the Bill, as Wilkinson has promised, be amended so that it serves us, the people? If not, and if the Bill is passed by Parliament, we will have to think very carefully about whether Parliament itself serves us.
Watch, and witness what happens. See how your local MP votes. Then make up your own mind, and speak it.
Finally, view the Campbell Live clip on the Food Bill here. In this, Wilkinson says that concerns regarding the Bill are part of some “conspiracy theory”. Foremost of these concerns are those about her own admission that the Bill “unintentionally” places restrictions on seed sharing – and her inaction about rectifying this problem to date.
If she doesn’t amend the bill so seeds for growing are not included under the definition “food”, then we will have to ask if there is actually a conspiracy – and whether Wilkinson herself is a part of it. Outrageous as that may seem.
So… wait, watch, and decide for yourself. Something else could happen, too. But the end result may be the same – heritage seed lines could be lost, because this would benefit commerce. And the Cabinet just loves commerce.
(1) Extract from a letter to Sue Kedgley, Green MP, from Kate Wilkinson, August 3, 2011, ref B-11-056.
“the barter or selling of propagation food seeds and food seedlings is in scope [of the Bill] … However the sale or exchange of seeds for propagation, and seedlings (whether this occurs in the context of a garden centre, a market, or between those in a community of interest), is not intended to be captured.
“I have therefore instructed officials involved with the Food Bill to provide advice on how clause 8 (the meaning of food) could be amended to make it clear that seeds for cultivation and food seedlings are not within the definition food [sic] under the Bill.”
The full letter is available here. It is also linked from the bottom of the blog here. (Ignore the blog’s dog-and-pony-show propaganda. The Greens, who voted for the Bill at first reading, know the truth is coming out now and are dissembling for extra election votes).
Green MP Sue Kedgley has bagged NZers for not making submissions to the select committee for the Food Bill, which nobody knew about, but which her party nonetheless voted for. She has also, incidentally, squeezed out of the Minister for Food Safety, Kate Wilkinson, the admission that as per the article below, the Food Bill would indeed place severe restrictions on companies trading seeds for growing (though ‘this was not my intention’ – but of course the minister didn’t write the bill, it was drafted by offshore interests).
See Sue Kedgley’s sanctimonious treatment of NZers who are too tired to be eternally vigilant, and her dodging of the issue that her party voted for the bill, plus Kate Wilkinson’s response (which vaguely promises an amendment so seeds for growing are not controlled), plus Kedgley’s apparent typo in the very first word of her blog, here http://blog.greens.org.nz/2011/08/05/and-end-to-seed-exchanges/
Food Bill: threat to seed saving and natural medicines? Guy Ralls (Organic NZ, July/August 2011 Vol.70 No.4 Issue)
The Koanga Institute’s directors say the Food Bill is a “significant threat” to heritage seed saving networks, and that “any bill saying people can’t exchange food and plant material is fascist in intent.”
The Food Bill, which went through a submission process late last year, is likely to have its second reading in Parliament in the next few weeks.
Bob Corker and Kay Baxter spoke out following confirmation by lawyers that the Food Bill will criminalise people who exchange seeds, plant material or home-raised produce – even by giving these away – if they cannot afford or are otherwise not granted a government licence to do so. MAF says that the Bill covers only food for sale for human consumption, and not seed (unless it were for human consumption); and that the definition of ‘sale’ includes bartering but not giving away.
“New Zealanders are losing their basic right to barter and exchange food and plant material,” says Corker. “That’s crazy. How are they expected to put up with that rubbish?” Baxter also condemns as “laughable” the fact the WWOOFing would be outlawed. The Bill could also affect the sale or exchange of rongoa – medicinal herbs.
“We now need to seriously look at its position in relation to seed sharing,” says Bob Corker. “Our practices may need to be protected in a Claim of Right or even Maori Sovereignty. This Bill is in breach of human rights.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What can you do?
Share this information, write a letter to the editor, approach your MP or marae. See Food Bill at www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2010/0160/latest/096be8ed8067340b.pdf or phone 04 817 9999