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Greens attack free speech

“The attack by the co-leader of the Green Party on the New Zealand Life Sciences Network (Inc) is an attempt to prevent the public hearing anything which contradicts the Greens’ view of the world and therefore, nothing less than an attack on free speech,” the Chairman of the Network, Dr William Rolleston said tonight.

“Earlier this year we commissioned Tradenz to carry out some research overseas to establish how other countries have handled biotechnology issues. The establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Modification in New Zealand is testament to how important the issue is for us here.

“Approximately 60% of our national wealth is derived from biological science and its application. Modern biotechnology, of which genetic modification is but a part, plays an important role here and overseas.”

“The Royal Commission has been asked to look at the international picture. The information we gather will be made available to the Royal Commission. The questionnaire we wrote addresses the issues which are important for the industry to have some international knowledge about. The research is being conducted in Canada, US, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia. Many other industries have commissioned similar research about what is happening in overseas markets from Tradenz in the past.”

“Surely Ms Fitzsimons, as a Member of Parliament, believes even those people she opposes have the democratic right to undertake research, talk to people and try to put their best case forward? Her intemperate comments about the Network suggest she may believe something else.”

“She can’t surely believe that only the Green Party and its anti-GMO colleagues have the right to organise submissions and evidence for the Royal Commission. There is a point of view, different to hers, which the Royal Commission must hear if it is to come to a reasonable and balanced report and recommendations.”

“The Network has a role to play in the debate. We will continue to put the positive case for continuation of the responsible use and development of modern biotechnology in New Zealand. The benefits to be derived from the application of the science have tremendous implications for the health of the planet and its growing population.”

“The Network will raise issues which are important for its members with the Coalition Government, other political parties, Government officials, the public, the media and the Royal Commission.”

“We will enter into the debate with anyone who wants to discuss the important issues. Our intentions are open and transparent. Anyone can see what we think by visiting our website www.lifesciencenz.com.”

“Ms Fitzsimons also makes claims about us which reflect a very poor level of research on her part. If she had read our media release issued on Friday she would have seen we advocated allowing the cholera vaccine Orochol Berna to go through the normal ERMA approval process.”

“The only reason we criticised the recall was because it had the effect of removing the most effective vaccine currently available for New Zealanders for no useful purpose for people or the environment. It is likely the environment already has this benignGMO in it (though the research shows it can’t live in the wild for more than 14 days) and therefore to stop the small number of people who need it, getting it was not a good policy decision. Ironically, if New Zealand travellers stop in Australia on their travels they can get the vaccine there.”

“Ms Fitzsimons has been invited to meet with the Network and has also been invited to meet noted Indian biotechnology spokesman Professor CS Prakash when he comes here next month. I hope she takes the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with us,” concluded Dr Rolleston.

For further information, contact:


Dr William Rolleston Francis Wevers
Interim Chairman Executive Director

Phone 03 612 6688 Phone 04 916 0100
Mobile 025 2460634 Mobile 021 916010


Date: Monday, 19 June 2000

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