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Green Bill would freeze GE moratorium for 5 years

Green Bill would freeze GE moratorium for five years

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street has entered a private members' bill into today's ballot that would extend the moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified material until 31 October, 2008.

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Moratorium Extension) Amendment Bill would extend by five years the date upon which the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) may consider applications for the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.

"At this stage, we simply do not know what effect the release of GE organisms will have on our environment," Said Mr Ewen-Street. "The research commissioned by the government in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification still has a long way to go.

"For example, the research into soil ecosystems and horizontal gene transfer is still several years from completion. It would be crazy to allow the moratorium to expire without knowing the results of this research and it would also be inconsistent with Government policy to allow GE to proceed with caution.

"It would be environmentally and economically irresponsible to lift the moratorium at this stage, with research either incomplete or suggesting dire effects on our burgeoning organic industry and agricultural exports. Nor have the issues of contamination and liability been addressed.

"The Royal Commission recommended that the Government should proceed with caution," said Mr Ewen-Street. "That is exactly what this Bill sets out to achieve."

Mr Ewen-Street's is the second Green private members' bill in the ballot to deal with GE issues.

Sue Kedgley's Consumers Right to Know (Food Information) Bill would extend GE labelling to cover all foods and ingredients made with gene technology. It also requires the labelling of GE animal feed and would enshrine in law the concept of consumers' right to know what is in the food they're eating.

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