The finding of chemical residues in our milk is a wakeup call to the risk of damaging our clean green brand, the Green Party said today.
This was in response to the suspension of sales and use of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) after traces of the chemical were found in milk.
"We need farming practices that reinforce our reputation of producing clean, safe food," Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Steffan Browning said today.
"Our international markets don't want chemical residues in their food and neither do New Zealanders," said Mr Browning.
"Farming is a crucial part of our economy and our reputation for producing clean safe food is central to that.
"Rather than placing urgency on setting acceptable levels of DCD in food as some have suggested, we need to be placing urgency on moving our farming to true sustainability.
"There are ways to keep our clean green marketing advantage but they won't come from chemical silver bullets.
"Sustainable farming systems exist that tick all the boxes; ensuring farmer profitability and clean safe food while reducing emissions, nitrate leaching and carbon use, and that also improve animal welfare and biodiversity.
"Government needs to be focused on supporting farming for long term sustainability, not cash cows.
"Current government funding takes a desperate head in the sand approach to New Zealand's primary production by cutting funding to organic sector support.
"On top of the chemical residues in our milk, nitrification inhibitors also leach into waterways and we don't even know what their long term impact on the soil is.
"Our highest value customers globally want sustainable and ethically produced food.
"Genuine, clean green New Zealand production for our customers is the way of farming for the future," said Mr Browning.