Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


GE Moratorium Rustles Feathers Behind Scenes

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitsimmons will tomorrow meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the GE Royal Commission and accompanying moratorium – an announcement on which was put off for another week today.

Today Ms Fitzsimmons was not commenting on recent discussions with the government on the issue, but all indications indicate the tensions over the issue of just what is a moratorium are intensifying.

Both the Alliance and the Greens favour a compulsory moratorium on all genetically engineering experiments while the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the science is underway. Labour, the main force in the coalition , favours a softer voluntary moratorium.

This morning Alliance MP and Associate Minister for the Environment, Phillida Bunkle was reported on Radio New Zealand saying the Alliance had softened its stance on genetic engineering so as not to be seen to be “holding the government to ransom” on the issue.

Ms Bunkle today attended the Cervical Cancer Inquiry in Gisborne in somewhat non-traditional circumstances, not as a Minister of the Crown but as a representative of a health trust.

Both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Bunkle’s party leader Jim Anderton, appeared to be treating her actions with kid gloves today.

In the post cabinet press conference the PM said that her minister’s actions in attending the inquiry were okay so long as “she observes the appropriate boundaries” in her roles.

In a statement this afternoon Ms Bunkle rejected the reports of an Alliance back down as speculative and premature.

She said both the Labour and the Alliance would continue to support a “robust moratorium” which the Alliance would push to make compulsory.

While the matter would be discussed in Cabinet today, the Government would not make a formal statement about the issue until next week, she said.

This indeed appears to be the case, with an announcement now finally expected next week. However at her afternoon press conference the Prime Minister said the issue of the nature of the moratorium – whether it should be voluntary or compulsory – was settled and had been since the Speech from the throne.

The moratorium, she said, was primarily involved with the imposition of stricter controls on GE trials rather than outlawing field experiments.

Last week the hearing of an application from AgResearch to conduct muscle growth experiments on sheep has highlighted the issue of what in practice this will mean, and this may in part be what has raised Bunkle’s anxiety levels.

Meanwhile National’s Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy said the Alliance back-down highlighted that there was no scientific justification for having a compulsory moratorium.

He said a voluntary moratorium would only be a face saving measure, “to provide some political comfort for the Alliance and the Greens.”

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation The South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>

Charlotte Graham: Empowering Communities To Act In A Disaster
The year of record-breaking natural disasters means that in the US, as in New Zealand, there’s a conversation happening about how best to run the emergency management sector... More>>


Jan Rivers: The New Zealanders Involved In Brexit

There are a number who have strong connections to New Zealand making significant running on either side of the contested and divisive decision to leave the European Union. More>>

Rawiri Taonui: The Rise, Fall And Future Of The Independent Māori Parties

Earlier this month the Māori Party and Mana Movement reflected on the shock loss of their last parliamentary seat in this year’s election. It is timely to consider their future. More>>

Don Rennie: Is It Time To Take ACC Back To First Principles?

The word “investing” has played a major part in the operations of the ACC since 1998... More>>

Using Scoop Professionally? Introducing ScoopPro

ScoopPro is a new offering aimed at ensuring professional users get the most out of Scoop and support us to continue improving it so that Scoop continues to exist as a public service for all New Zealanders. More>>