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Changing Position Will See Govt Missing The Wave

10 September 2001

The suggestion that the Government will ignore the findings of the $6 million Royal Commission on genetic modification and continue to ban important research into new biotechnology tools will be a huge set back for New Zealand, National's International Trade spokesperson John Luxton said today.

"It will see a further brain drain of New Zealand's key biotechnology researchers leaving to continue their research work in other countries such as Australia and the United States. They will gain at New Zealand's expense.

"For a country which is more dependent on agricultural exports (over 50 percent) than any other country, the suggestion that key field research into genetic modification should be banned ignores nearly 15 years of similar trial work already undertaken in New Zealand. It will ensure that New Zealand misses the few real opportunities to catch the Knowledge Wave and lead the world.

"It is scary that Helen Clark and her Government refuse to show leadership in this important area, follow a science-based approach, and provide for informed debate on the issues involved.

"Leadership is not about reflecting a Luddite view to new ideas, but is about encouraging new technology into New Zealand that is educated and cautionary. Already new medicines from Genetically Modified organisms are saving thousands of New Zealanders' lives and have been for 15 years."

The Royal Commission report stated 'evidence identified likely economic benefits for genetically modifying crops and building agricultural expertise by making commodity production more competitive; the development of niche markets; expanded opportunities in New Zealand's Knowledge Economy; and decreased chemical usage'.

"It seems the Government has already failed to catch the Knowledge Wave after only a month since all its hype about new ideas and new technology to improve New Zealand's economy," Mr Luxton said.

Ends


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