New food bill in New Zealand takes away human right to grow food

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
martinv's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 14 2010
Posts: 6
New food bill in New Zealand takes away human right to grow food

I was shocked to learn from a friend on the weekend that a new Food Bill is being brought in here in New Zealand.  The new bill will make it a privilege and not a right to grow food. 

I find two aspects of this bill alarming.  The first is the scope and impact the new bill has, and secondly that it has all happened so quietly.  There has been VERY little media coverage, on a bill which promises to jeopardise the future food security of the country.

I read that the bill is being brought in because of the WTO, which of course has the US FDA behind it, and of course that is influenced by big business (Monsanto and other players).  It looks like this NZ food bill will pave the way to reduce the plant diversity and small owner operations in New Zealand, for example by way of controlling the legality of seed saving and trading/barter/giving away; all will be potentially illegal.  The best website to read about the problems with the new bill is (I have no connection with this website)

Here are some snippets:

- It turns a human right (to grow food and share it) into a government-authorised privilege that can be summarily revoked.

- It makes it illegal to distribute “food” without authorisation, and it defines “food” in such a way that it includes nutrients, seeds, natural medicines, essential minerals and drinks (including water).

- By controlling seeds, the bill takes the power to grow food away from the public and puts it in the hands of seed companies. That power may be abused.

- Growing food for distribution must be authorised, even for “cottage industries”, and such authorisation can be denied.

- Under the Food Bill, Police acting as Food Safety Officers can raid premises without a warrant, using all equipment they deem necessary – including guns (Clause 265 – 1).

- Members of the private sector can also be Food Safety Officers, as at Clause 243. So Monsanto employees can raid premises - including marae – backed up by armed police.

- The Bill gives Food Safety Officers immunity from criminal and civil prosecution.

- The Government has created this bill to keep in line with its World Trade Organisation obligations under an international scheme called Codex Alimentarius (“Food Book”). So it has to pass this bill in one form or another.

- The bill would undermine the efforts of many people to become more self-sufficient within their local communities.

- Seed banks and seed-sharing networks could be shut down if they could not obtain authorisation. Loss of seed variety would make it more difficult to grow one’s own food.

- Home-grown food and some or all seed could not be bartered on a scale or frequency necessary to feed people in communities where commercially available food has become unaffordable or unavailable (for example due to economic collapse).

- Restrictions on the trade of food and seed would quickly lead to the permanent loss of heirloom strains, as well as a general lowering of plant diversity in agriculture.

- Organic producers of heirloom foods could lose market share to big-money agribusiness outfits, leading to an increase in the consumption of nutrient-poor and GE foods.


The key factor is seeds. In many cases they specifically are food, of course. Grain seed, seed potatoes, rice, maize, quinoa, many staples etc etc – as the bill stands all these will explicitly be controlled substances, with similar penalties for possession as drugs.

This being so, the unenforceability of prohibiting people from growing food for local distribution becomes a moot point. No good seeds means no good food (if any food at all) to distribute.


I have been a member of this site for over a year, and this is my first post.  I did not think it would come to this in little old New Zealand, literally at the ends of the earth.  Very serious stuff indeed.


gyrogearloose's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 549

This strikes a ltiile close to home, as it is my home.....

Had though 'how sad things are' when I read about kids in the USA being told they could not run a lemonade stand outside their house without getting a permit. Sorry can't find original article quickly, but quick google got this

"Lemonade Freedom Day" earned support from thousands of people across the country, including dozens who wrote in on the Facebook page that they created stands for their kids to sell lemonade. The effort to "liberate lemons" was intended as a challenge to a recent string of police actions that have shut down the hallmark childhood entrepreneurism. 



Reading on the food bill in there and saw  recomended changes "

Small scale businesses

We recommend amending clause 95 by inserting new subclause 95(5) to provide an example of a person to whom the chief executive might grant an exemption from the requirement to operate under a registered food control plan or national programme. This example concerns someone who produces in his or her own home any food for sale, and sells the food to a consumer only, and does not employ or engage anyone else to assist in the production or sale of the food, and does not otherwise sell or distribute the food.

The treatment of very small-scale food businesses has emerged as a matter of particular interest in our consideration of the bill. Very small-scale food traders, or cottage industries are not distinguished in the bill. It would be difficult to quantify small-scale in terms of profit, quantity of product, or number of people involved in the operation, and it is also difficult to define a cottage food industry. Doing so could have the effect of inappropriately including or excluding particular food-trading activities. Therefore we do not recommend a generic cottage industry provision, and propose instead that any exemption from the requirement to operate under a food control plan or national programme regulations could be made on a case-by-case basis through the exercise of the chief executive’s exemption power under this clause."

Goes a little way, but reads as though you have to apply for an exemption,

at the end is says

"The Green Party is particularly concerned at the definition of food safety, given the narrow focus by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority on managing food safety risks of microbial contamination, and the way it consistently ignores contamination by pesticides and other chemicals such as Bisphenol A, and heavy metals."

Riiiggghhht.  I grew up on a farm and by some miracle beyond the understanding of the bureauPrats, I survived to adulthood despite dringking out of creaks with sheep shit in etc. The human body can usually survive bacterial incursions, but is has few mechanisims to cope with heavy metals.

And then the kicker....

"Finally, we are pleased that this bill will require importers to be registered in New Zealand and that importers will have a duty to be able to trace imported foods back to their source. We would like to see this ability to trace foods back to their source, used as the basis for mandatory country of origin labelling, and full traceability in the food supply, as is being introduced in other countries."

How stupid can you get. Ok, they have to say where it comes from, but do nothing to ensure that the overseas suppliers have to comply with the same standards we and other farmers will have to comply with here.

Look foward to a choice.

1  cheap food from china grown in who knows* what conditions and pollutants

 2  higher food prices for locally grown food thanks to farmers having to spend half their time filling in the bureauPrats forms

Cheers Hamish

*P.S  I was on a business trip to China a few years ago. As a consequence of what I saw there, we no longer by any food with China in the lable....

maceves's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2010
Posts: 281

 That has got Monsanto stamped all over it.  In the land of permacultue, no less.  It makes me sick to think about it,

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988

I see a bunch of global food-growing rules and they aren't pretty for those into permaculture. While this does not affect my little kitchen garden in America, I am already afraid to even share a jar of jam with a neighbor. This seems to mirror much of what they are trying to implement in the US of A. The fact that it happened in NZ quiettly, without debate, is very similar to hat happened to us.  Don't New Zealanders have a bit more recourse? Someone ought to raise a stink about this.

martinv's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 14 2010
Posts: 6
I don't know what can be

I don't know what can be done to stop a bill like this.  Perhaps there is someone here who is more clued up on the laws of the land than I am, who can suggest something.

Heh, getting media attention for anything at the moment would be difficult.  The rugby world cup has recently started and it's being hosted here in New Zealand.  This is a nation of rubgy enthusiasts and so this is a HUGE event.  In fact, the one newspaper I know of (the Sunday Star Times) that did publish an article on the new food bill, apparently ended up with the article appearing buried deep inside the paper, after all the articles about the world cup.

I'm doing my best to inform as many people as possible about the new bill, in the hopes someone out there can and will do something.

martinv's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 14 2010
Posts: 6
Food Bill article in the Timaru Herald

One of the few newspaper articles that I've seen, highlighting some of the problems with the bill.  This from the Timaru Herald newspaper


Some snippets:

The woman behind the Oamaru community gardens is concerned a bill going through Parliament could jeopardise the project.

Gardens co-ordinator Annie Beattie said the Food Bill, which passed its first reading on July 22, was more commercially driven than about food safety.  "It's all about big companies wanting sole rights to seeds because they don't produce seeds and you have to buy them again each year. They are contaminated seeds.  "I have to say I am furious about these bullying tactics."

She has signed an online petition opposing the bill. "This to me is a dictatorship and certainly not a democratic society.  "I think its time for people to open their eyes be responsible and stand up for their rights.  "I would go to jail if I had to and will be defending the right to have community gardens and share our food and our knowledge of the importance of good, safe, real food."


I found the website for the gardens: and waicomgardens at for E-Mail.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments