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Tax-payer funds spent on pro-GE propaganda

12 April 2000

Tax-payer funds spent on pro-GE propaganda - Greens

Green Co-leader Rod Donald said today he is outraged a Government board is spending tax-payer money to promote genetic engineering

The latest National Business Review carries a $2500 page-dominant advertisement; styled as a column by Trade New Zealand chief executive Fran Wilde and bearing the Trade New Zealand logo. The column attacks opponents of genetic engineering and hails the technology as a "lifesaver" for developing countries.

Mr Donald said it was "totally inappropriate" for the chief executive of Trade New Zealand to be taking an overt political stand, especially when a Government announcement setting up a Royal Comission on genetic engineering was imminent.

"Wilde's advertorial descends into slogans in its unwarranted attacks on people who are genuinely concerned about the ramifications of genetic engineering, as 'affluent liberals' ," he said.

Her statement "half truths have been the hallmark of much of the criticism of gene technology. But then, if you don't have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, self-indulgence can take many forms", is an insult to the scientists and citizens who want the Royal Commission to consider the issue before irrevocably committing this country to a future of genetic engineering.

"The presentation of the advertisement as an article is as deceptive as its content is opinionated," said Mr Donald. The advertisement is laid out like an editorial column, and is not openly identified as an advertisement.

Mr Donald said Wilde's justification of genetic engineering did not stack up. "She attempts to tug the heartstrings by talking about starving millions, but gene technoloy has more to do with profits than feeding the hungry," he said. "I suggest she listens to National Radio's current Insight documentary series which features Indian experts speaking out against genetic engineering."

Mr Donald will ask the minister responsible for Trade New Zealand, Phil Goff, whether this provocative campaign has his blessing, and whether he thinks it is an appropriate use of tax-payer funds.

"Trade New Zealand should stick to its core business, which is promoting value-added exports. In this regard, they could no better than get in behind New Zealand's burgeoning organic export producers and help them meet the insatiable demand for uncontaminated produce,' Mr Donald said.

Trade New Zealand advertisement appeared on p4 of last Friday's edition of the National Business Review - copy available on request

Rod Donald MP: 04 470 6660 or 025 507 183 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289


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