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GE Debate Just Commencing - Peters

Media Release

30 October 2001

GE Debate Just Commencing-Peters

The New Zealand First Caucus has today debated at length the decision of the Government to continue the moratorium on the commercialization of genetically modified substances and to permit an opening up of field trials of activities previously confined to the laboratory.

“We are supportive of the Government’s position on GE. However we remain unconvinced that the present structures and monitoring of trials is sufficiently independent and robust that we can give it total support,” explained the Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Only the most closely monitored and controlled field testing should be undertaken, and even then, only with independent oversight by Internationally recognised authorities. Agencies with a vested interest of a commercial nature, particularly multi-nationals with an unenviable record in the conducting of their affairs in the area of GE, must be kept at arms length from the monitoring process. This would decrease substantially the concerns of ordinary New Zealanders and NZ First has pledged to pursue this as a prerequisite to any field trial extensions,” Mr Peters said.

“ Even then, only applications which have been thoroughly researched and approved as safe, appropriate and necessary and demonstrating a low risk, high advantage to New Zealand and New Zealanders, could be supported to begin field trials”, he said.

“Given the lack of precise and totally reliable information surrounding the whole spectrum of GE, and the existence of significantly differing viewpoints between so many of the ‘experts’ in this area of science, New Zealand First has resolved to adopt, on behalf of its constituency, a position of opposition to any unilateral extension of genetic modification into the areas of commercial release of plants or animals”, Mr Peters stated.

“Experimentation in any form carries with it certain risks and in the case of GE, we have to be assured that every reasonable step necessary to guarantee our safety and the security of our export industries has been considered before any trials or scientific experimentation of such matters, is even contemplated, let alone commenced,” he said.

“The dangers of getting any rogue GE micro-organisms or unintended cross fertilization into our everyday food supplies, pose a potentially very serious threat to the well-being of all New Zealanders and accordingly, any such potential must be eliminated”, Mr Peters said.

“The need to ensure the primacy of safety for New Zealanders is axiomatic and is not negotiable, and under no circumstances, must the New Zealand Government abandon its obligation to its people in that regard.

Meanwhile associated aspects of GE such as the labeling of foodstuffs containing modified substances must be introduced immediately in order that we can tell at a glance, whilst products are on the shelves, just what it is that we may be subjecting ourselves and our families too. We will be seeking the assurance of the Government to implement such a labeling regime forthwith and to bring her Minister of Health into line with view of the vast majority of New Zealanders who are demanding the right to be informed as to the contents of foodstuffs purchased. It is just not good enough for the New Zealand Health Minister to be led by the nose by Australian Ministers as she was in respect to this matter only last week, when she informed us that she had reluctantly had to go along with the majority within the ANZFA committee ”, stated Mr Peters.

“New Zealand First will ensure either the exemption provisions of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act are implemented, or if necessary, that the Act is amended in order to preserve New Zealand’s independence and sovereignty over such matters are maintained, Concluded Mr Peters.


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