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IBAC Report Misses The Mark - Greens

12 January 2000

IBAC Report Misses The Mark - Greens

Green MP Sue Kedgley has criticised the Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council's report on genetic engineering, saying it is too narrowly focussed on the economic and trade implications of growing GE organisms in New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley said it was disappointing the report had sidestepped the fundamental issues surrounding genetic engineering such as the safety and ethics of genetic engineering, the environmental implications, whether private companies should be able to patent living genetically engineered organisms and the welfare of animals involved in GE experiments.

"The report does not consider the long term effects on the New Zealand economy and the health of New Zealanders should there be unseen adverse effects from genetic engineering," she said. "Nor does it even address who is liable if accidents or irreversable adverse effects were to occur from the commercial production of GE crops."

The underlying assumption of the report is that it is now too late for New Zealand to be completely GE-free and that it is impossible to remain GE-free indifinitely, she said. "The Greens completely disagree with the report when it says 'It is not possible or sensible to commit to retain GE-free food production forever.'

"To argue that GE crops and food are inevitable and that consumers are powerless to prevent it - as IBAC have done in this report - is an age-old strategy which has long been used by the biotech industry," she said.

Ms Kedgley said she was pleased that one of the options IBAC is recommending is to delay releasing GE organisms into the environment, however she was concerned that during the delay IBAC also recommend 'fostering gene related research and development' and using genetically engineered organisms in the environment as 'biological control systems'.

"The very narrow focus of the IBAC report underlines the necessity and urgency of a comprehensive Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering which would thoroughly investigate all the issues including safety, health and ethical considerations," she said.

"As soon as the Royal Commission of Inquiry is up and running the Greens see the role of IBAC as redundant."

Ends

Sue Kedgley 04 470 6728, 025 270 9088


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