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Biosafety Stance Should Be Made Public - Greens

28th January 2000

Biosafety Stance Should Be Made Public - Greens

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today called on the Government to make public the position New Zealand is taking at the crucial biosafety talks in Montreal.

The talks, which started on the 24th January and end today, aim to set rules for international trade in living genetically modified organisms, including seeds, grains, animals and their derived products.

Ms Fitzsimons said the talks were vital to New Zealand's control over genetically engineered imports, and the public should be fully informed about the stance that New Zealand was taking.

"The Green Party supports a strong biosafety protocol which would force overseas exporters to inform us of genetically modified organisms coming into the country," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said she hoped the New Zealand delegate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official Darryl Dunn, had been briefed to put safety and environmental concerns first.

"Any protocol agreement must preserve a country's control over its own borders. Any Government must have the right to reject genetically modified imports, without the fear of being hauled up in front of the WTO for contravening international trade agreements."

Ms Fitzsimons said she had informed Prime Minister Helen Clark of the Green Party position on the biosafety protocol.

"New Zealand should not agree to any protocol which would pre-empt the results of the Royal Commission on genetic engineering," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The choice of saying yes or no to imports of genetically modified organisms should be made by the people and Government of New Zealand. Overseas commercial firms who have invested huge sums in developing these organisms should not be given the power to force them on us."

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