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Voluntary Moratorium on GE - a poor start

Voluntary Moratorium on GE - a poor start to the Royal Commission

Monday 17 April, 2000, Auckland, New Zealand

A voluntary moratorium on genetically engineered field trials is a poor start for the Royal Commission, and calls into question the integrity of the process, Greenpeace stated today. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs today gave the long awaited announcement on the terms of reference for the Royal Commission on GE, which failed to place a ban on GE field trials.

“To allow the possibility for some GE field trials to continue, whilst carrying out a national debate about the safety, ethics and risks of such trials, is clearly a contradiction. The potential risks of genetic pollution - which the Royal Commission is being set up to investigate - may not be prevented by today’s announcement. As the first major environmental issue Minister Marian Hobbs has made a decision on, it is a disappointment to see this poor commitment to a precautionary approach” said Tricia Allen, Campaigns Director for Greenpeace.

“The risk of irreversibility posed by allowing genetically engineered organisms to be grown is recognised clearly by Minister Marian Hobbs in her press release of today’s announcement. The wisdom of banning commercial GE applications whilst the Commission meets is welcomed. But combining this with a voluntary moratorium, which will still allow field trials to go ahead in secret locations, is a contradiction. This means that we can kiss goodbye to the certainty of New Zealand being protected from genetic pollution” said Tricia Allen.

“The Royal Commission now runs the risk of not protecting our country from genetic pollution whilst a proper debate takes place” said Tricia Allen.

ENDS


For further information, contact Tricia Allen on +64 (0)9 630 6317 or +64 (0)25 790 817.


NOTES FOR EDITORS

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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