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Moratorium On GM Risks R&D Investment

14 February 2002

Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) has told the Select Committee considering the HSNO Amendment Bill that the proposed two year moratorium on applications for the commercial release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from containment is unnecessary and will stifle R&D investment.

"The Royal Commission on GM considered the question of constraint on open or commercial release in considerable detail and recommended the introduction of a new "conditional" release category, as recommended by Federated Farmers," said Mr Polson.. "It is extremely disappointing that this Bill does not address conditional release."

"It is not necessary to further constrain the Environmental Risk Management Authority by removing the discretion to apply controls on field trials.

"The Federation is concerned that the two-year restriction will severely impact on investment in research and development, to the detriment of research and ultimately the competitiveness of primary industry.

"New Zealand farmers must produce in a competitive environment without government support and have to respond to market signals to survive. The cost of obtaining regulatory approval and then commercialising a GM product is likely to limit applications to those where there is an identified market.

"Imposing non-scientific restrictions on the commercialisation of products derived from gene technology will ensure capital flows into the New Zealand biotechnology sector are at best slow and at worst, negative. If this legislation proceeds the Prime Minister's vision that biotechnology will elevate New Zealand to a higher growth plane will never become a reality."


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