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ACT Party should apologise to kiwifruit farmers

Oct 10, 1999

ACT Party should apologise to kiwifruit farmers

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today called on ACT Leader Richard Prebble to withdraw a statement supporting genetically engineered kiwifruit.

In a policy statement to the Christchurch Press (October 6, page 9) Mr Prebble says: "Some of the agricultural products where we lead the world - like the new varieties of kiwifruit for example - are the result of genetic modification."

Said Ms Fitzsimons today: "I urge Mr Prebble, for the sake of New Zealand's clean, green image, and in the interests of the kiwifruit export industry, to withdraw that statement and apologise to kiwifruit farmers.

"In public statements and in assurances to me personally, the Kiwifruit Marketing Board [also called Kiwifruit New Zealand] has comprehensively rejected genetically-engineered kiwifruit."

For example, in a statement to the Bay of Plenty Times in April this year, Kiwifruit New Zealand chairman Doug Voss said the board had resolved "not to fund research, include within its inventory, or market genetically modified kiwifruit", Ms Fitzsimons said.

This was restated on September 3 when Kiwifruit New Zealand said in a press statement: "We believe food safety issues are the paramount concern among global consumers, with genetic modification and genetic engineering receiving huge attention. Our policy is quite clear. We will not fund research or sell genetically modified kiwifruit."

In a letter to Ms Fitzsimons, dated September 8, 1999, Mr Voss says: "Kiwifruit New Zealand and its global marketer Zespri International Ltd, have a policy, introduced in March this year, to align research and development to the industry's strong environmental philosphy and production practices by rejecting any involvement in genetic engineering." Said Ms Fitzsimons: "If any genetically engineered kiwifruit remain in New Zealand research laboratories, then clearly under the board's policies they aren't going to see the light of day. I urge Mr Prebble to concede he's on the wrong track and to publicly back the board's enlightened stance on this issue."

ENDS


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