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Hodgson Response To Sustainability Council On GM

Response to Sustainability Council of NZ on GM

Labour strongly agrees with the sentiments of the newly formed sustainability council of New Zealand but strongly disagrees with their preferred solution, says Research, Science and Technology Minister, Pete Hodgson.

"We freely acknowledge that if New Zealand primary production were to shift to genetic modification that there would be significant marketing barriers amongst our trading partners," Mr Hodgson said. "New Zealand producers know that. Why, therefore, might they produce GM dairy products they couldn't sell?

"Similarly, we need to protect the environment and the health and safety of people and communities, which is why we have legislation that has precisely those words as its purpose.

"It seems that the council has closely examined neither current law nor the findings of the Royal Commission. All of the issues the council has raised were considered exhaustively by the Commission, whose recommendations have been adopted by the Government. Only one of the council took part in the Commission's processes, concentrating on issues other than an extension to the moratorium.

"The concerns raised by the Council are amongst those that must be addressed by the Environmental Risk Management Authority, which operates under the most precautionary, transparent and participatory system in the world.

"In general the Authority must satisfy itself three different ways before an organism can be approved for importation or release. It must be satisfied that benefits outweigh risks (taking into account "all the effects"); it must be satisfied that there are no significant environmental or health risks no matter how great the benefits; it must be satisfied that there is sufficient information to assess the risks, no matter how good the information is in other respects.

"Finally the law requires a precautionary approach, which is defined. It is the only New Zealand law with such a section.

"The selective use of the technology is taken as a given. The concerns alluded to by the Council, including the unspoken strategic issues, must be addressed on a case by case basis, not a prescriptive one."


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