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Greens And Gov't Clash Over GE Moratorium

The Greens and the Government are on a collision course because of the Government's plan to allow farming of genetically engineered plants and animals to go ahead next year, said Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The Government has decided to keep the automatic lifting of the moratorium on commercial release of genetically engineered organisms, despite intense pressure from the Greens and the public.

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Amendment Bill putting the moratorium in place was reported back from select committee today, and will come back to Parliament after Easter. The Greens plan to move an amendment in Parliament to keep the moratorium in place past 2003.

"If the Government wants to campaign through the election on releasing genetic engineering into the environment, and it seems from the final form of this bill that they do, then the Green Party will take them on," said Ms Fitzsimons. "This is a very popular Government, and they take great pains to stay popular. But I think they've read it seriously wrong on this one.

"There is massive support for a GE-Free New Zealand. It's a big gamble from the Government to bet in an election year that people don't care enough about genetic engineering to vote on it."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Government has invalidated its own expensive research programme into the risks of genetic engineering, since the moratorium will be lifted no matter what that research shows, or whether the research is even finished.


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