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Government misses chance for biotech partnership

Government misses chance for real partnership on Biotech

The Government has missed an opportunity to create a real partnership between science and the public on biotechnology, with its strategy discussion paper released today, Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

The strategy was more about encouraging the public to accept whatever the Government and science wanted to do with biotechnology, rather than accepting that science should operate within a framework set by society.

"They say they want to know what we think, but they've been told time and time again. They have hundreds of thousands of postcards saying 'keep GE in the lab' and numerous surveys saying the same thing. They have been told by lots of people there are wonderful uses of biotechnology that are supported by the public but which do not include farming GE crops or growing GE organisms in the environment."

Ms Fitzsimons emphasised the Greens believed biotechnology was very important to New Zealand, offering many exciting opportunities to gain better information and techniques of benefit to medicine, agriculture and other sectors.

"But the Government would have a better chance of building the trust they say they want if they weren't pushing so hard to include the relatively small amount of biotechnology involving growing GE organisms outside the lab."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was interesting that none of the discussion paper's seven case studies required the use of GE organisms outside the lab, showing the huge opportunities that existed in biotechnology which the public would support without going that extra step.

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