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Baldock slams 'selective' GM opponents

For immediate release

Thursday, 17 April 2003

Baldock slams 'selective' GM opponents

United Future environment spokesman, Larry Baldock, has described the papers released by the Government today relating to the effects of genetic modification technology on the New Zealand economy as perfectly sensible and based on quite rigorous scientific analysis.

"This is quite contrary to the tactics of GM opponents, like the Green Party, who are not interested in good science and who do not have an open mind. They specialise in citing selective points and then interpreting them to suit their own agenda," he said.

"The paper on the economic impacts of GM at the very least demonstrates the lifting of the moratorium is unlikely to have negative consequences for the New Zealand economy (and is quite likely to have at least a small positive effect).

Mr Baldock went on "I think the key point made in this paper in this respect is that overseas consumers are unlikely to base their purchase decisions on whether or not the product's country of origin is "GE free" (and in fact they are unlikely to even know New Zealand's GE status in the first place).

"The survey showing some overseas consumers WOULD make a decision on this basis is misleading because it specifically brings New Zealand's GE status to the forefront of the survey participant's mind and asks them to make an abstract judgment.

"In reality, they are unlikely to be thinking about this issue (or to know where NZ stands) when making a purchase and are in fact more likely to make a purchasing decision based on price."

Mr Baldock said "The paper on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops is even more rigorous and is based on sound science and commonsense. It advocates treating each GM crop on a very rigorous case by case basis instead of having a generic framework for all genetically-modified organisms as originally recommended by the Royal Commission.

"This makes sense to me because it takes into account a key point that is often overlooked in the GE debate - and that is that GMOs are not fundamentally any different from any other plant or animal species. As with any "natural" species, it is the specific characteristics of the individual organism that are important - not whether or not it is a GMO.

"If it is poisonous then it is poisonous - if it is a superweed, then it is a superweed (whether or not it is a GMO is beside the point). And this holds true for non-GMOs (possums are no less of a threat to our native forests just because they aren't genetically modified.

"United Future's policy is to support the lifting of the GE moratorium in October provided all the relevant regulatory and other matters stemming from the Royal Commission have been properly addressed by that time. On the basis of these papers and other policy work undertaken by the Government to date, it looks like this process is well on track," concluded Mr Baldock.

Ends

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