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GM Moratorium Will Stifle Agriculture

National Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy says the Government should back New Zealand's talented agricultural researchers and call off its proposed moratorium on genetic modification.

"Only last week the Prime Minister was claiming Government support for innovators in various fields - including biotechnology. But her lofty rhetoric has - again - proven to be nothing but weasel words.

"Right now, the Government is preparing to implement a two-year restriction on the release of genetically-modified organisms that has our world-leading agricultural scientists and organisations worried about future prospects.

Mr Herlihy says the impending GM ban has already seen top researchers - like Phil L'Hullier who led AgResearch's groundbreaking calf cloning research - join the country's scientific brain drain and head offshore.

"I agree with AgResearch's science general manager Dr Paul Atkinson - who appeared before the HSNO Amendment Bill Select Committee yesterday. He says the moratorium goes against the major conclusion of the Royal Commission, which ruled that New Zealand should 'keep its options open' and 'preserve opportunities'.

"Just exactly how the Government's two-year ban on the release of GM technology will achieve these outcomes for our all-important agricultural sector is a good question. Dr Atkinson is correct when he says the moratorium will have significant adverse effects on New Zealand's science capabilities and ultimately our economy."

Mr Herlihy says Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton must speak up on the GM restrictions and support New Zealand's future agricultural prospects, instead of kowtowing to the Prime Minister and her need for Green Party support by keeping his silence.

"When will Jim 'Sideline' Sutton stop sitting on his hands? Or is he more concerned about preserving his political career than the interests of New Zealand's agricultural sector," Mr Herlihy concluded

Ends

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