The discovery of a Roundup resistant grass is a huge blow for conventional New Zealand farming, and shows the need for organic systems, the Green Party said today.
The Foundation for Arable Research confirmed today that they have found New Zealand's first case of glyphosate resistant ryegrass on a vineyard where Roundup was being used to control grass growth. Plants become resistant to pesticides such as glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, when these chemicals are applied too frequently. The plant was discovered as part of a project funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund.
"Weeds developing resistance to Roundup is well documented in Australia, USA and South America. The causes are well known, yet we have just let it happen in New Zealand too," said Green Party agriculture spokesperson Steffan Browning.
"We need to be investing in sustainable farming systems, especially organics, that will take New Zealand agriculture safely into the future," said Mr Browning.
Between 2001 and 2011 organic production in New Zealand increased by 112,963 hectares, a nine-fold increase.
"The large growth in conversion to organics, and in particular vineyards, shows the solution is clear; chemical use can be reduced and there are better ways of farming," said Mr Browning.
"We have been seeing increasing use of pesticides on conventional farms in New Zealand and that means we are producing weeds that are resistant to Roundup.
"Roundup is a toxic chemical. The focus should be on moving away from using chemical pesticides and instead rethinking our whole approach to conventional farming.
"This project, funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, is an example of the sort of research the Ministry of Primary Industries should be supporting more of.
"The Sustainable Farming Fund needs to be increased so that New Zealand can have the tools it needs for a genuinely sustainable farming sector.
"Sustainability, through systems such as organics, will develop the farming of the future in clean green New Zealand," said Mr Browning.
For more information:
Foundation for Arable Research press release, http://www.far.org.nz/index.php/media/entry/glyphosate-resistance-confirmed-in-new-zealand
Article citing the increase in organic production, orgprints.org/19517/1/Paull2011DecadeJSDS.pdf