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‘conditional release’ must not hamper GE research

Government’s ‘conditional release’ plan must not make GE research more difficult

Dr Paul Hutchison - National Science and Biotechnology Spokesperson

The Government’s plan to release a discussion paper on conditional release of GE is overdue, but a sign they are at last considering the recommendations of the Royal Commission on GE, says National’s Biotechnology spokesperson.

“The Government has said they are pro-science and want to target biotechnology as a key growth area, yet all they have done so far is to amend the HSNO Act and make GE research applications more difficult.

“This is making key horticultural and agricultural research in New Zealand too arduous and expensive, resulting in the work, and the scientists, going overseas. This is closing opportunities, not preserving them,” says Dr Hutchison.

“The reality is that on two occasions Ag Research’s applications have cost over $500,000 each, and one took over two years to complete. In Australia, the equivalent approval would have taken days.

“While it is appropriate that New Zealand should follow a precautionary approach to GE and to full commercial release, the Government must not pretend to be pro-science when in action they are making vital research in New Zealand too difficult to carry out.

“The Government’s intentions of reviewing ERMA, releasing a discussion document on conditional release, and lifting of the GE moratorium may sound pro-science but the reality is different. Research in the GE field should not become so bound up in red tape and costs that New Zealand loses it’s infrastructure and capability in this vital area of research,” said Dr Hutchison.

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