Introducing school children to the science underpinning climate change is positive and worthwhile but great care will be needed to ensure there is balance, says Federated Farmers.

"Teachers will need to present and explain the pros and cons of various courses of action in response to global warming, and in particular guard against the lessons fostering feelings of panic or hopelessness" said Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

While much of the material in the "Prepare today, live well tomorrow" teacher resource was instructive and compelling, some of it was misleading unless the nuances of the topic were explored, said Hoggard.


For example, there was a section that urged people to buy local food and products as they hadn't had to travel so far in a vehicle which used fossil fuels.

"You are also helping our economy" the resource stated.

"That's very simplistic" said Hoggard.

"It ignores the environmental footprint of the producers and is counter to the interests of New Zealand as a major exporter of food. Per kilogram of protein, produce from NZ farmers can reach consumers in most parts of the world with a lower greenhouse gas/environmental footprint than is achieved by many local producers."

Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard. Photo / Supplied
Federated Farmers climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard. Photo / Supplied

The resource also implied eating red meat was wrong and environmentally damaging.

"Again, that's a misleading generalisation here unless other factors are explained, including nutritional needs, that New Zealand doesn't have the industrial livestock feedlots common in some other parts of the world, and that we have a role in another pressing challenge facing humankind - hunger in a growing world population" said Hoggard.

Responding to similar criticism from the meat industry, Ministry of Education deputy secretary early learning & student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said these messages weren't new to the community.

"There is nothing in this resource that says it does not support our farming industry. The messages reflect advice that already exists such as being mindful of food consumption, among many other things including recycling and travel.


"We expect schools to consult with their local community when making decisions about how they deliver the curriculum. This resource is not a compulsory part of the curriculum.

"Awareness of the environment and our place in it is one part of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Nutrition is covered in a different part of the curriculum."

To give a balanced picture of climate change, Federated Farmers said it would like to see some coverage of New Zealand's world-leading research on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation and the continuing efforts of Kiwi farmers to lighten their environmental footprint.

"Schools could invite farmers to come in and talk to students, or even better, they could get on board with the 'Open Farm' programme and kids could visit farms to see for themselves what happens there" said Hoggard.