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GE hearings would educate Cullen

12 March 2001

GE hearings would educate Cullen

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is inviting Deputy Leader Michael Cullen to attend her closing presentation to the commission into genetic engineering on Thursday, so that he can get a better grasp on the risks of the technology.

Ms Fitzsimons said Dr Cullen's comments in a speech to business leaders on Saturday comparing the concerns at the introduction of the car to those surroundings genetic engineering showed that Dr Cullen was naïve and misguided in his understanding of the risks.

"Dr Cullen effectively said on Saturday that New Zealand's future depends on developing and using genetic engineering, and suggested that we can control the risks in the same way that we have road rules for cars.

"He completely misses the point that genetic engineering puts the entire environment that we depend on at risk, as well as posing a health risk for every person who consumes genetically engineered food, often unknowingly."

Ms Fitzsimons said if Dr Cullen had come along to any of the hearings so far, he would have understood that once genetically engineered crops or bacteria are released into the environment, they can't be taken back.

"That's a completely different situation to a car which can only injure a limited number of people at a time, and which can easily and permanently be silenced by turning the key off."

Ms Fitzsimons said the use of genetic engineering in the laboratory was the only place where the risk was small enough to be worth taking.

"Besides as Dr Cullen said in his speech, 18 percent of our export income comes from dairy products and 13 percent from meat. I don't see overseas consumers jumping up and down with joy at the thought of milk or meat from genetically engineered cows, or even from cows fed on genetically engineered grass, so I'd be interested to hear how he thinks genetic engineering is going to increase the value of our exports," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons will be presenting the closing submission for the Green Party on the final day of the Royal Commission hearings on Thursday 15th March at 9.30am.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 025 586 068 (Monday), (04) 470 6661 (Tuesday) Gina Dempster, press secretary: (04) 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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