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Green Party reaction to the terms of reference

17 April 2000
Green Party reaction to the terms of reference

Scope:
The scope of the commission is broad enough to cover the ethical, safety and spiritual questions raised by genetic engineering, in line with the Green Party’s suggested guidelines. The Green Party successfully asked for wording in the terms of reference to be clarified so that genetically engineered food was specifically included in the commission’s scope.

Size:
A four member commission is a compromise between the Green Party’s proposed five member commission, and a mooted three member commission (as suggested by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs in response to written question 2702 lodged on 15 February by Paul Hutchison). The Greens are happy that the commission will have expertise in law, ethics, genetic science, medicine and Maori cultural values. The glaring omission is ecology, and it’s very important that a suitably qualified ecologist be employed in the secretariat.

Personnel:
We are very pleased that, to our knowledge, none of the members has taken a strong public position either for or against the technology in the past.

Timeframe:
The Greens are doubtful that the commission can hear all those who wish to be heard and fully consider their arguments in a year. We originally proposed two.

Budget
The Greens believe the budget will be adequate to allow the commission to bring people from overseas to give evidence if appropriate and hire suitable staff.

Moratorium:
The Green Party has repeatedly called for an immediate moratorium on
applications for new field trials and on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. We welcome the moratorium on the release of
genetically modified organisms, but note that the negotiations for a moratorium have not yet begun and it will not be in place for more than three months. We hope this will not lead to a spate of applications now.

We are unhappy that new applications for outdoor genetically engineered field trials will still be approved, albeit with stricter controls.The Greens will continue to push hard for a halt on new field trial applications until the commission has reported back; including submitting Jeanette Fitzsimons’ genetic engineering moratorium bill in upcoming members’ ballots and calling on CRI’s to voluntarily put all new field trial applications on hold.

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

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