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Govt dodges questions on global GE treaty

Govt dodges questions on global GE treaty

The Green Party is concerned at the Government's failure to be straight on whether it intends to ratify a hugely important global GE treaty.

Green Co-Leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was concerned by answers given by Environment Minister Marion Hobbs in the House today about whether the Government intends to ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

The Protocol would help protect biological diversity from the risks posed by international trade in GE.

"The Minister did not give a straight answer when I asked whether the Government would ratify the Protocol. This is a real concern," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"The Protocol offers the best hope of controlling the movement of GE organisms around the world."

It comes into force tomorrow, 11 September, having been ratified by more than 55 countries. It is the first protocol of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

"I am particularly concerned that the Minister was completely unaware that the United States has been giving developing countries GE grains as food aid, without their knowledge or consent," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"The Protocol would make such activities illegal under international law. It is vital that the New Zealand Government plays its role as a good international citizen and supports the Protocol.

"I can't help but be suspicious that the delay in ratifying the Protocol is linked to New Zealand joining, as a third party, the US case at the World Trade Organisation against the European Union. It is a shameful case that is attempting to force the Europeans to accept GE organisms against their will.

"I suspect that our Government is worried that the case against the EU would collapse if the countries taking it signed a Protocol that gave countries the right to refuse GE organisms."

ENDS

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