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NZ a lout on world stage say Greens

22 March 2006

NZ a lout on world stage say Greens

New Zealand's position on terminator technology at the UN Convention on Biodiversity shows a reckless disregard for biosafety and for international opinion, says Green Party Environment Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

Terminator technology is a branch of genetic engineering which produces plants with sterile seeds. It is of particular concern to poor farmers in developing countries because it would force them to be reliant on seed companies year by year for their food security and well-being.

"We are acting like a lout on the world stage. Just as last week we were isolated and condemned on labelling of genetically modified organisms, this week we seem determined to vandalise an international agreement on terminator technology," Nandor says.

Nandor questioned Foreign Minister Winston Peters extensively in Parliament three weeks ago over the stance Foreign Affairs officials were likely to take on this issue at the convention, but received no straight answer from the Minister.

Now, cabinet papers released to the Sustainability Council under the Official Information Act show that New Zealand is seeking the option to authorise field trials for genetically engineered plants that produce sterile seeds, despite the fact that a de facto moratorium on terminator technology has been in place by international consensus since 2000.

"Once again, New Zealand is sticking out like a sore thumb on genetic engineering, for no apparent reason. Our stance on this issue has brought international condemnation and concern from governments and environment groups alike," Nandor says.

"New Zealanders are proud of our reputation as a good international citizen, but this reputation is being seriously undermined by the positions we have taken on these issues in Brazil.

"To its credit, the Government did shift its position at Cartagena last week, and back down from being the only country standing in the way of an international agreement on labelling of genetically modified organisms traded across borders.

"I can only hope that officials will see fit to do the same on terminator technology this week," Nandor says.


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