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Alliance GE Free - Position Paper on GM

2 September 2001 Media Statement

Alliance GE Free


The Alliance wants a moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms until the technology is proven to be safe, while it's supporting contained research on GM as well as research and development, and production of GM medicines.

The Alliance Council adopted its policy this weekend following the Royal Commission Report on Genetic Modification.

The Labour Alliance Coalition Government is due to decide in October on a Government response to the Royal Commission.

Alliance leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said the Alliance supports the Royal Commission's view that NZ should 'preserve opportunities'.

"The Alliance believes the best way to preserve opportunities is to ensure our current GM free agriculture and environment should not be compromised. Once the technology is released it can't be brought back, and so a moratorium should extend until the technology is proven to be safe.

"The Alliance pushed for the Royal Commission and the moratorium that operated very successfully. The moratorium was recently extended until the Government made a decision.

"The Alliance position decided this weekend continues the trend of pioneering carefully thought-out positions on this issue," Jim Anderton said.


Attached is the Alliance position paper.


1st September 2001

Alliance Position Paper on Genetic Modification

The use of genetic modification is a major strategic issue for New Zealand’s future.

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification found many uncertainties about the risks and effects of genetic modification on the environment, human health and our economy. The Commission concluded that much more research is needed before any genetically modified organisms should be released in to our environment and that the first release decision should be made by the Minister for the Environment.

The Alliance supports the Commission’s view that we must ‘preserve opportunities’. We believe the best way to achieve this is by not compromising our current ‘GM free’ agriculture and environment.

Moratorium

The Alliance does not support the release of GM organisms into the environment.
The Alliance believes that there should be a further moratorium on the development and production of non-contained GM organisms until the technology is proven to be safe.
Under no circumstances should New Zealand’s natural environment be put under threat.

The Alliance believes the same restrictions should apply to field trials during a new moratorium as applied during the successful moratorium of 2000/01. The Alliance rejects conditional release and buffer zones as we believe they cannot be made to work.

Research

The Alliance supports New Zealand laboratory based research into genetically modified organisms. In New Zealand there have already been many advances in research by using genetic modification in laboratories to better understand natural organisms. The Alliance supports research within containment without risk to the environment or human health.

Medicine

The Alliance supports the contained and strictly controlled use of genetic modification in the development and production of medicines and medical research.

Economy

New Zealand should make the most of the opportunities our clean green image provides in our export and tourism markets. The Alliance believes it is important that genetic modification is not used in a way that undermines these opportunities or our clean, green competitive advantage.

Society

There are also significant cultural, ethical and spiritual issues for tangata whenua, as the Treaty partner, in relation to GM and its implications. The Alliance will ensure that full consultation with Maori over the development of policies and protocols related to the development of genetic modification takes place.

The Alliance will also establish a Bioethics Council, on which tangata whenua are represented, to consider cultural and ethical matters, and ensure that recommendations made by the Council are binding on the approval process.

Food

The Alliance recognises that GMOs have already entered the food chain in other countries and therefore that the food we import is already contaminated. We support a government-led process to ensure that GM food is labelled. We also support the development and promotion of a ‘GE free’ label for food producers who wish to distinguish their products.
ends

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