16 Jun 2015

Fed Farmers working to be effective voice

10:13 am on 16 June 2015

Federated Farmers is forming new advisory teams with the aim of giving itself a more effective voice in the public debates on water use and science issues, such as genetic modification.

Hatea River

River pollution in Northland. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

Its water team includes policy staff with science backgrounds, as well as farmers, while its science and innovation group will also have a panel of outside scientific advisers.

Federation president William Rolleston said it had set up the teams to give itself some scientific grunt, because the debates on these issues would be decided on good science.

"If you look at the debate on water and some of the statements that have been put out there, one that comes to mind is that 90 percent of our waterways are unswimmable and polluted, and it's just not the case," he said.

"We need science to actually dissect those sorts of bland statements and reconstruct them in a way that tells the public what is actually going on, because it's a much more nuanced debate.

"If you look at the Prime Minister's chief science advisor, science and society is a real issue from his point of view and we agree with him."

Debates such as those around such things as immunisation, fluoridation and genetic modification all needed good science input or the wrong decisions would be made, Mr Rolleston said.

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