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Jim Sutton backs Labour's GE stance

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton has accused the Green Party and their new-found band of friends in the self-styled Sustainability Council of New Zealand as scaremongering and deliberately ignoring the carefully considered findings of the Royal Commission .

The Royal Commission was set up with the support of all political parties, he said.

"After an exhaustive enquiry, taking more than a year, the Royal Commission said we can proceed safely to utilise appropriate GM technology with caution, using proper assessment procedures.

"The Labour Party have a moratorium to give us time to make sure these risk protection procedures are in place. The law requires that if any particular release poses significant risks, either to health or environment, or if there is insufficient information to assess these risks, it will not be allowed, no matter how great the benefits.

"As for the sudden concern of the previously anti-trade Greens, that any commercial use of GM crops or animal products could damage market access for New Zealand products, this is clearly another case of unsupported scaremongering.

"Every major market for New Zealand food products, including Germany which has a Green Party minister of food safety and agriculture, produces and consumes GM crops themselves.

"In fact, were New Zealand to adopt a "GE-Free" policy without scientific justification, we would lose our reputation as a trading partner who sticks to the rules and bases our regulations on honest science. We rely on that reputation to keep our vital export markets open."

Mr Sutton said genetic modification was a relatively new technology, and New Zealand was one of the last countries in the world to apply it in agriculture.

He said he could understand some people being nervous about new things, but the Royal Commission had been set up to independently evaluate the basis of those concerns. It heard thousands of witnesses, rejected extreme or unjustified positions from both sides, and debunked numerous "urban myths".

"The Royal Commission represents New Zealand's most independent and thorough way of exploring any matter of public controversy and it is frankly neither constructive nor particularly responsible to launch a political attack on its findings in the final stage of a general election campaign.


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