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Report exposes Government inaction over GE

Report exposes Government inaction over GE

A new report shows the Government has implemented only 20 of a package of 49 recommendations of the 2001 Royal Commission on Genetic Modification and only one of the "watershed"recommendations, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"This confirms what we were saying seven years ago about the Government's lack of commitment to carrying out the proposals of its own Royal Commission," she says.

"Not only are they totally uninterested in keeping this country GE-free, they will not even protect non-GE farmers and New Zealand's clean and green agricultural brand. It is yet more evidence that government agencies, supported by their ministers, don't care about ruining our organic and GE free export brands."

The report by the research organisation Sustainable Future, which is a think-tank specialising in sustainability issues affecting New Zealand, says the Government has failed to create - as one of the main national strategic "watershed" recommendations - any framework to protect co-existence between GE and non-GE producers.

Ms Fitzsimons says the report shows the importance and the urgency of delivering on the 2005 Greens/Government co-operation agreement. While the Government would not agree to the Greens' first preference of no release into the environment or on to our farms of living GE organisms, the post-election agreement does include the words, "to increase the certainty around the ability of non-GM [genetically modified] producers to maintain GM Free production and be able to identify their product as such to meet market access requirements".

After two years of negotiations there has so far been no progress towards this goal.

The theme of the Royal Commission's report was 'preserving opportunities'. Among the 49 recommendations were eight designed to ensure that any release of GE organisms did not contaminate the products of other growers, including beekeepers.

"None of these recommendations to preserve opportunities have been implemented. It is action on these recommendations the Greens are asking for," Ms Fitzsimons says.

While neglecting to set up a proper protection framework, government agencies were instead supporting larger and more risky field trials, for example Crop and Food's proposed trial announced last week allowing plants to flower and seed, risking contaminating the country's safe and GE-free food supply brands.

"What is at stake is New Zealand's market access for food that can still be guaranteed to be GE free, in other words the type of food consumers in Europe and Japan want. That alone is reason enough to exclude GE organisms from New Zealand."


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