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GE Bill has too much red tape - National

Dr Paul Hutchison National Science Spokesperson

1 September 2003

GE Bill has too much red tape - National

"The National Party will support the Government's New Organisms and Other Matters Bill, but with considerable reservation," says Dr Paul Hutchison, National's Spokesperson for Science.

"National views an evidence-based scientific approach to this Bill as being fundamental, and we agree entirely with the Royal Commission that 'continuation of research is critical to New Zealand's future'.

"National supports a very rigorous approach to risk analysis, but is concerned this Bill may impose very heavy financial burdens, time delays and compliance costs on applicants, which effectively hinders rather than facilitates safe progress.

"The Bill also acts against the Government's 'innovation and growth policy', which focuses on biotechnology as one of three key areas for New Zealand to promote. The reality of the Bill is that permission for full commercial release in the next few years is highly unlikely.

"I'm also concerned that the Minister's powers to 'call in' applications have widened to include cultural, ethical and spiritual effects. The effect of these proposed changes will be to create further uncertainty for scientists and those that make commitments to biotechnology, with a resultant loss of confidence in the New Zealand regulatory environment for leading edge research and development.

"National is also concerned about the high levels of fines proposed in this legislation and that there is a reversal of burden of proof. Many lawyers believe regimes surrounding GE do not justify changing the principles that apply in other scenarios," Dr Hutchison said.

Dr Hutchison said National had consistently supported the findings of the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering but believed the Government Bill would tie up researchers in red tape.

Ends

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