Stuart Nash has called on Craig Foss to stand with the region's MPs in their support of the Hastings district's bid to go GMO free.
The Napier MP, whose electorate covers a decent chunk of the neighbouring district, said it was an important issue and that while all of New Zealand should be GMO free, this move should begin at a local level. "I am a supporter of this right across the Bay for a number of reasons. First and foremost it is about the sort of brand we are creating," he said.
"In a way it comes down to what we stand for as a region which is top quality food, great wine but differentiated on the global stage. And if we can say we are GMO free, not only now but into the future, it will be a unique selling point that I think will be worth a real premium to our exporters."
Mr Nash said going GMO free was something all the MPs from across the regions should be working towards in a bipartisan manner. "I know Meka Whaitiri is very supportive, and Anna Lorck - while she is not an MP, she is the Labour spokesperson for Tukituki," he said.
"I would love to see Craig Foss stand with us.
"This is really important for our region for our regional brand, not only on a national level but on a global level.
"I make this call in good faith - I am more than happy to work really closely with Craig on this for what is good for our region," he said.
Tukituki MP Mr Foss didn't say whether he would work with his Labour colleagues, but said: "I am always Backing the Bay."
"I stand for ensuring our region has every opportunity to grow and succeed, balanced, of course, with protections for our stunning environment." He said Labour cannot have it both ways. "They cannot, on one hand, deny our growers the opportunity to export goods to markets around the world under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and, on the other, say 'GMO-free' is a unique marketing opportunity internationally."
Member for Ikaroa-Rwhiti Ms Whaitiri questioned whether or not Mr Foss was "backing the Bay". She said from both economic and environmental levels it would be silly not to support Hastings' bid to go GMO free.
"It makes complete sense that we would protect the integrity of our agriculture and growers sector in the greater Hawke's Bay area," she said.