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PM's Innovation Claim Absurd Given Govt Decisions

12 February 2002

Prime Minister Helen Clark can't claim her Government supports biotechnology, research and innovation when they overrode the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering and are imposing a moratorium on field trials, National's Biotechnology spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said today.

"It is even more absurd for the Government to claim it promotes innovation when, through the HSNO Bill, it has banned world-beating diabetes research even though it has nothing to do with genetic engineering.

"The Government is also flying in the face of a key signal from the Knowledge Wave Conference that New Zealand needed to rigorously support biotechnology research. Last year the Government's tiny $11 million funding to science and research was the lowest figure in six years.

"The moratorium on field trials is preventing New Zealand scientists from progressing necessary work. The Government's luddite stance in biotechnology is sending agricultural and horticultural scientists overseas to do their work because applications for research here have become impossibly complicated and costly.

"It is a tragedy for New Zealand diabetics that the Health Minister does not allow trials to continue in cases where patients have given fully informed consent.

"Helen Clark's government is not funding key biotechnology research adequately, has made compliance too difficult and is banning both GM and non GM research altogether. The Government can't claim to be supporting innovation when it is blatantly hindering progress in science and technology," said Dr Hutchison.

Ends

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