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Board Leadership Shake-Up Might Bring GE Change

A farmer-led shake-up of the Dairy Board's leadership might also change the board's pro-genetic engineering direction, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

Dairy Board chairman John Storey has been ousted in a farmer vote, although it is unclear yet how soon he will step down.

Ms Fitzsimons said she had no doubt the main reason for Mr Storey's defeat was farmer concern about the Government's forced deregulation of the dairy industry and the way the board had embraced "new right" market reform.

"But the recent board announcement that it would be spending $150 million over five years on biotechnology, including genetic engineering, has added to farmer alarm," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Most farmers are closer than board leaders and their staff to the groundswell of consumer concern, in small communities around New Zealand, about genetic engineering."

Today Ms Fitzsimons issued a letter from Mr Storey, in which Mr Storey declines a public debate on genetic engineering.

"I was intending to try again with Mr Storey before releasing his letter, but as he won't be around much longer, I will now be approaching his successor," Ms Fitzsimons said. "The kiwifruit and apple producer boards made a u-turn on genetic engineering earlier this year, and I sense that the Dairy Board may do the same."

In a letter to Mr Storey last month, Ms Fitzsimons said she was concerned that the board was declining to say what genes from which animals it was planning to add to cows. Also, she said then, she was concerned that a Dairy Board publication, the December Review, was upbeat about proposals to replace some cow genes with human genes (such as AgResearch is already doing).


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