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Taxpayer's Money Used In Monsanto's PR

New Zealand taxpayers have spent $100,000 funding a public relations front for genetic engineers, including the United States food and chemical giant Monsanto, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

New information on the genetic engineering PR organisation GenePool (also called Gene Technology Information Trust) is emerging this week, and funding details arrived today at Parliament's education and science select committee's office.

Up to now GenePool, which is winding up, has refused to give other than minor detail of its funding. It has also often described itself as an unbiased "education trust". Late last year GenePool held seminars around New Zealand publicising the so-called merits of genetic engineering. "While this body was set up by Monsanto and other genetic engineers, Monsanto put only $27,500 into GenePool's 1997-98 budget, while $100,625 came from the taxpayer," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"The Government has given taxpayers' money to an organisation that effectively was a front for Monsanto."

Details of GenePool's funding include $30,625 from Crown research institutes, $70,000 from government science grants, and $27,500 from Monsanto.

In the Evening Post yesterday, GenePool spokesman Howard Bezar said "public attacks" on GenePool may have had an adverse impact on the organisation "which made it difficult to proceed".

In April Ms Fitzsimons released a leaked document written by the public relations firm Communications Trumps, a company closely associated with GenePool, sharing office facilities and staff. The document, written for New Zealand King Salmon, urged the fish-farming firm to keep its work on genetically engineered fish secret.

Today Ms Fitzsimons said it was likely that a new front "education trust" would be set up in New Zealand by genetic engineers such as Monsanto.

"I predict this will happen within months, if not weeks," she said.


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