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Minister Hobbs Both Confused And Confusing

Minister Hobbs Both Confused And Confusing

It's official - Corngate is now `Clarkgate' and `Hobbgate', ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

"From answers to questions in Parliament today, it is now abundantly clear that both Prime Minister Helen Clark and Environment Minister Marian Hobbs are endeavouring to fudge and obfuscate on the Government's GM policy," Mr Shirley said.

"Afraid of losing ground to the Greens during the last election campaign, Labour was desperate to cover up the presence of GM-contaminated corn crops in Gisborne. Both Ms Clark and Ms Hobbs steadfastly asserted that Labour's GM crops policy was one of zero tolerance - a policy position that was re-stated in the House today.

"It is now clear that this assertion was, and is, false - and that they have known it to be so all along. The most damning evidence against them was the operational agreement between ERMA and the Biosecurity Authority, which I tabled in Parliament today.

"As a Minister for the Environment and Biosecurity, Ms Hobbs would have been fully informed of this operational agreement and, undoubtedly, Cabinet would have been advised.

"The third paragraph of this agreement clearly provides that certification of imported seeds can be provided where, in the case of sweet corn, the recommended tolerance level for contamination with GM organisms does not exceed 0.5 percent.

"This is totally incompatible with the Prime Minister and Environment Minister's assertion that the policy was, and is, one of zero tolerance for GM-contamination of crops.

"All of this fudging and obfuscation around probability levels does not change the basic facts. New Zealand does not operate a zero tolerance policy - despite the Prime Minister and Environment Minister's continued assertion that we do.

"It is most disturbing when Cabinet Ministers are prepared to distort the truth to cover their political discomfort," Mr Shirley said.

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