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Automatic GE Ban Lifting Makes Research Farcical

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today it was scientifically indefensible that the two year ban on commercial release of GE organisms would be automatically lifted at the end of the period.

"The Government says in the preamble to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Genetically Modified Organisms) Amendment bill tabled today, that the whole reason for postponing any GE release is so that urgent research identified by the Royal Commission can be done.

"The Green Party is determined to see the moratorium extended indefinitely, but at the very least, there needs to be a process in place to make sure that the research is finished and the findings looked at before it is lifted.

"If the research isn't going to feed back in to future decisions, you have to wonder why you're doing it. It makes the whole commitment to more research look farcical."

Ms Fitzsimons said the real issue for New Zealand is whether there will be sufficient public support to leave the moratorium in place in 2003.

"The Greens will be trying to muster sufficient support for that course."

Ms Fitzsimons said she was bemused that there was no provision in the amendments for appropriate inspection and monitoring, as the policy statement of 29 October had promised.

"Inspection and monitoring of GE field trials so far has been slap-dash and ineffective. There is nothing in these amendments to change that."

Ms Fitzsimons said the new controls on field trials were inconsistent and selective because they treated GE animal and plant trials differently.

"Both GE plants and animals pose the same risks to soil through horizontal gene transfer, but while there are stricter conditions around plants, the same conditions will not apply to GE animal field trials.

ENDS

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