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GM research: forward with caution

Tuesday, 30 October 2001 Media Statement

GM research: forward with caution

New Zealand will keep its competitive edge as a place for high-quality biological research as a result of the Government’s response to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, says Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson.

“The Government has carefully weighed the possible benefits and risks of GM research,” Mr Hodgson. “We have found a way to proceed with caution that will allow valuable science to move ahead, while managing the risks with the care the New Zealand public clearly expects.

“Our economy is founded on primary production. GM technologies are already a valuable tool for the primary sector in the continual quest for improved products and productivity. That tool will continue to be available, although we are ensuring it will be used with the utmost care.

“Scientists and investors in biotechnology can be confident that New Zealand will continue to be one of the best countries in the world to conduct biological research. Cautious and responsible management of GM technologies will ensure a long-term stable environment in which research can proceed with confidence that it is acceptable to the New Zealand public.

“With the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, New Zealand already has very rigorous legislation and institutions for managing the risks associated with research into new organisms. That regime is now going to be strengthened, with mandatory controls and monitoring to ensure that contained research can proceed with the risks at a minimum. I am unaware of any existing or immediately prospective research in New Zealand that will not be able to proceed within the constraints announced today.

“New Zealand has an outstanding knowledge base in the biological sciences and excellent opportunities for growth in biotechnology. I am confident that these opportunities will continue to expand under the conditions that will apply from now on.”

ENDS

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