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New Zealand's position on genetic modification

New Zealand's position on genetic modification

New Zealand has decided to join a World Trade Organisation disputes case because of our belief in the need for a rules-based trade system based on transparency and honest science, Acting Trade Minister Phil Goff said today.

Mr Goff confirmed that New Zealand had decided to join as third party a case against the European Union taken by the United States, Argentina, Canada, and Egypt. Other third parties include Australia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

"New Zealand has a strong interest in defending the integrity of the international trading system, in particular the sanitary and phytosanitary agreement which requires members to set health-related standards based on scientific evidence and risk analysis."

Mr Goff said New Zealand had carried out a rigorous investigation and consultation on genetic modification in order to set up legislation that allowed New Zealand to proceed with caution while preserving opportunities in biotechnology. A bill is currently before Parliament to set up the framework for the ending of New Zealand's two-year moratorium in October. Labelling systems are in place to enable consumers to make informed choices.

It was to protect New Zealand's overall interests that we were taking part in this WTO case, he said. It was important that trade be open and transparent, with any trade restrictions founded on scientifically-based grounds.

"Our participation does not mean that we wish to promote New Zealand exports of GM crops. We do not produce GM grains or oilseeds and are not likely to. But the way to deal with consumer fears is to ensure they have proper information, and that a sound regime is implemented for any restrictions on particular products."

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