Environmental Beliefs and Farm Practices of New Zealand Farmers: Contrasting Pathways to Sustainability
Campbell, Hugh; Fairweather, John
Sustainable farming, and ways to achieve it, are important issues for agricultural policy. New Zealand provides an interesting case for examining sustainable agriculture options because gene technologies have not been commercially released and there is a small but rapidly expanding organic sector. There is no strong government subsidization of agriculture, so while policies seem to favour both options to some degree, neither has been directly supported. Results from a survey of 656 farmers are used to reveal the intentions, environmental values, and farming practices for organic, conventional, and GE intending farmers. The results show that organic and conventional farmers are relatively similar but contrast to GE intending farmers, especially with respect to perceived consequences of each technology. While 75%of farmers have not yet made a commitment to either technology, one fifth were GE intending and one quarter may become organic. Organic farmers have different attitudes to nature, matched in part by conventional farmers. In terms of policy for sustainable agriculture, the results suggest that organic and conventional farmers are incrementally moving towards agro-ecological sustainability while GE intending farmers are committed to intensive production methods of which GE products are potentially important. GE intending farmers reject incrementalism in favour of a revolutionary technological fix for sustainability concerns in agriculture. Overall, the results show that there are clearly two different paradigms of sustainability among farmers. Policies that are seeking to achieve sustainable agriculture need to address the tensions that span the different paradigms.
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Rights Statement: © 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Keywords: Attitudes; Gene technology; Nature; New Zealand; Organic; Paradigms; Policy; Sustainable farming
Research Type: Journal Article