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National Promises Open, Thorough Process On GM

14 July 2002

The Government's moratorium on Genetic Modification doesn't work because it is stopping the proper assessment of imports of genetically modified organisms, says National Leader Bill English.

"New Zealanders want to see GE monitored carefully and responsibly. We support using ERMA to assess the likelihood of seed contamination, and the risks to the environment. Under the moratorium, this can't happen, and we have to rely on bungling ministers we cannot now trust to enforce safeguards.

"National will put in place the testing regime and the checking process to make sure the risks are assessed, then lift the moratorium, because it does not work.

"Since the beginning of 2000, over 150 tonne of corn maize and canola seed were imported before MAF instituted any testing at all.

"While Labour and the Greens made a big deal of their moratorium stopping small field trials involving only a few hundred plants, they have allowed millions of seeds to be imported from GM countries without any testing or assessment.

"Even with more papers released today, there is nothing to back up Helen Clark's statements that there was no contamination. All official advice said there was. Helen Clark and Marian Hobbs broke the law because the HSNO Act bans all GE material and requires under the precautionary principle that if there is any doubt, GE material should be destroyed.

"The moratorium has not worked, and Labour's incompetence ensured failure of the safeguards.

"Our proposals are realistic and practical and will provide better safeguards for GE in New Zealand. The best approach is where decisions are made on the basis of independent decision-making and sound science. It is the only way forward out of this mess of incompetence and left wing politicking," Mr English said.

Ends

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