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Who can you trust on GE?

10 July 2002

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today she is stunned by revelations that the Prime Minister and other key Ministers might have been involved in a cover up of a large release of GE sweet corn.

"I am deeply distressed that the Prime Minister apparently decided to let this contaminated crop be grown, harvested, eaten and possibly exported in 2000/2001, and that the Government participated in efforts to keep the truth from the public.

"This will shake public confidence in the Government over GE to the core, especially given allegations that lobbying from big business played a major part in the Government's decision."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Government had by-passed ERMA - the regulatory body which they were asking the public to put their trust in - and had not told the Royal Commission the whole story.

"In Nicky Hager's book which broke the story today, he quotes two members of ERMA as having deep concerns over the Government's actions. In a confidential memo, they say "We have agonized over the risks of very small pollen escapes and how we could prevent these. It is ironic to find that Cabinet and officials are taking a less cautious approach to a release decision."

"The clear inference is that the Government is prepared to over-ride the whole regulatory system if it is politically expedient and helpful to big business. The Government fooled the nation, and now their word on GE cannot be trusted.

"Their main argument for the lifting of the moratorium on commercial release of GE is that they have instituted the safest regulatory regime in the world. How hollow is that assurance now?

"More than ever the Greens are needed to keep the next Labour Government honest. Keeping the moratorium in place and testing every batch of seed is the only sure way to keep GE out of the environment."


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