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Major success for Greens in Parliament

April 17, 2000
Major success for Greens in Parliament

The Green Party today welcomed news that the Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering would go ahead largely as proposed by the party.

However Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons strongly criticised the Government for not holding a meaningful moratorium on genetic engineering field trials.

“I am very pleased to be able to announce that this is an acceptable Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering. The Green Party has achieved seven-eighths of what we wanted - we have ensured a broad-ranging commission that will examine the ethical and safety issues surrounding genetic engineering; the first of its kind in the world,” Ms Fitzsimons said.

A voluntary moratorium on release of genetically engineered organisms was also announced, meaning commercial planting of crops cannot go ahead during the term of the commission.

“This achievement has involved years of work by the Green Party and the public,” said Ms Fitzsimons. “I first mooted the Royal Commission in late 1998 and am pleased that the Government has taken on most of my suggested guidelines for the body. I want to congratulate the 92,000 people who signed the petition asking for this, and the many community groups who worked so hard to enable the public to express their views. People in Thames were crossing the road and queuing to sign on the table outside my office.”

“I am also delighted that after only four months in Parliament, co-operation with Labour ministers has allowed the Greens to achieve much more than was possible during the term of the last government.”

However the downside was that new genetic engineering field trials would continue to be approved during the commission’s term.

“This is like holding a commission of inquiry into the dangers of nuclear power or nuclear warships, while welcoming them into the country,” Ms Fitzsimons said. “Because the commission will provide New Zealand’s first official analysis of the risks of genetically engineering to health, the environment and our economy, it is ridiculous to extend field trials during the commission’s term. People are concerned about the ones that exist now - at least we should preserve the status quo while we hear the facts.”

Ms Fitzsimons urged every New Zealander to make their views heard at the royal commission, saying it would be the one and only chance they would get to help determine what part genetic engineering would play in the country’s future.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661 or 025 586 068
Gina Dempster, Press Secretary 021 1265 289 or 04 470 6723

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