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GE Commission: The First Real Environmental Test

Royal Commission on GE :
The First Real Environmental Test

Friday 7 April, 2000, Auckland, New Zealand

The status of genetically engineered (GE) field trials whilst the Royal Commission of Inquiry on GE takes place will be the first real test of the new Government’s commitment to environmental protection, warned Greenpeace today [1]. An announcement on the terms of reference for the Royal Commission is expected imminently.

“If there is not a ban placed on GE field trials, the risks of genetic pollution - which the Royal Commission is being set up to investigate - will not be prevented. Allowing GE field trials to continue whilst the Royal Commission proceeds is like opening the prison gates whilst the Government considers penal reform. In short, without a ban on field trials, the Royal Commission will be a sham” said Tricia Allen, Campaigns Director for Greenpeace in New Zealand.

As one of the few outstanding pre-election commitments which the new Government failed to meet within their first 100 days of Government, the Royal Commission on GE poses the biggest environmental challenge Helen Clark has faced since coming to power.

“The irreversibility and unpredictability of allowing GE crops to be grown in the open environment is at stake here. The wisdom of applying the precautionary principle and banning commercial GE applications whilst the Commission meets makes good sense, but if this is combined with weak measures which will still allow field trials to go ahead in secret locations, we can kiss goodbye to the notion of New Zealand being protected from genetic pollution” said Tricia Allen.

“Will the Royal Commission protect our country from genetic pollution whilst a proper debate takes place? We expect Helen Clark to show the leadership required on this issue, and announce a ban on field trials, for the sake of our precious environment” said Tricia Allen.

ENDS

For further information, contact Tricia Allen on +64 (0)25 790 817.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

[1] Where the term GE field trial is used here, Greenpeace does not refer to the application of GE technology for medical purposes, where these experiments are carried out within closed laboratory controlled conditions.

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