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Greens oppose GE Bill in minority report


Greens oppose GE Bill in minority report

The Green Party strongly opposes the bill which provides for conditional releases of GE if the moratorium lifts, because it will facilitate the release of GE organisms into the environment - which New Zealanders clearly do not want.

In a strongly-worded minority report on the New Organisms and Other Matters (NOOM) Bill, reported back to the House today, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says she agrees with the large majority of submissions that oppose GE release.

Ms Fitzsimons says she is persuaded by scientific evidence to the committee that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be unstable and unpredictable; and that no GE foods have ever been tested on humans or long-term on animals.

Ms Fitzsimons replaced Green MP Metiria Turei as a non-voting member on the Education and Science select committee to consider the bill. Ms Fitzsimons was surprised the bill was not referred to the Local Government and Environment select committee, which she chairs and which usually refers to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act [which the NOOM Bill amends].

"The Greens support sensible removal of red tape for contained laboratory work, and stricter penalties for breach of the HSNO Act, regulations and consent conditions," the Green report says.

"However, we are disappointed that there are no liability provisions in the case where a GMO causes harm when the law has not been breached."

Ms Fitzsimons also says in the report she is concerned that a number of important recommendations of the Royal Commission on GM have not been implemented; and that the Environmental Risk Management Authority may not have the expertise to assess the economic risks to New Zealand of GE.

See below for full text of the Green Party minority report on the New Organisms and Other Matters (NOOM) Bill

ENDS

New Organisms and Other Matters (NOOM) Bill

Commentary Green Party view

Minority report to the Education and Science Select Committee Jeanette Fitzsimons MP

The Green (non-voting) member of the committee does not support the Bill because it will facilitate the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. She agrees with the majority of the submissions that were opposed to this, and is persuaded by evidence given by a number of scientifically qualified submitters that GMOs can be unstable and unpredictable, and that no GM foods have ever been tested on humans, or long term on animals.

The Greens support sensible removal of red tape for contained laboratory work, and stricter penalties for breach of the HSNO Act, regulations and consent conditions. However, we are disappointed that there are no liability provisions in the case where a GMO causes harm when the law has not been breached.

The new category of conditional release will allow into the environment organisms which cannot meet the minimum standards of s36, subject to conditions which may sometimes fail.

The member is concerned that a number of important recommendations of the royal commission have not yet been implemented: in her view there are no effective strategies in place to protect bees and bee products from contamination; to ensure co-existence of GE and GE Free food production; or to prevent resistance to Bt developing in insects. Further, the economic analysis done so far is equivocal and the committee has received no evidence that the Environmental Risk Management Authority has the expertise or the agreed methodology to assess the economic risks to New Zealand of losing markets in countries which are highly resistant to GE food.

District and regional councils, and Local Government NZ asked for clarity in the law with regard to their role, and for a voice in the decisions on GE that affect their communities. The Green member believes the bill should have addressed their request.

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