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Hobbs GE Protest Planned For Auckland Tomorrow

Press Release- Wednesday 30 May 2001

Protest as officials turn "blind eye" to new forms of 'genetic' pollution

Supporters of a Public Vigil protesting against contamination from genetic engineering field trials will greet Environment Minister Marian Hobbs at the Auckland launch of the "Hazardous Substances" section of the Hazardous Substances and New Organism's Act on Wednesday (30 May).

The rush-hour vigil outside the Waipuna Hotel, Mt Wellington will coincide with the Minister's media launch of measures to reduce the harm caused by existing toxic chemicals and poisons. The protest is calling for a halt to Genetic Engineering field trials that cause irreversible contamination of the environment, and for which insurers have refused to cover resulting damage.

"It is ridiculous to be allowing a totally new form of 'genetic' pollution to start happening in New Zealand just when legislation to control existing hazardous substances is coming into force", says Jon Carapiet, a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ which is supporting the vigil.

"We know from the evidence given by Norwegian scientist Dr Traavik, and others at the Royal Commission, that field trials in New Zealand are risking irreversible genetic pollution escaping into our environment. We are demanding the Minister act now instead of turning a blind eye to the problem"

The protest follows the recent approval by ERMA of GE cows incorporating a copy of a human gene to alter their milk. An appeal to the High Court had questioned the original approval and raised ethical and spiritual concerns as well as the issue of the waste from the transgenic animals polluting the land and water.

" The evidence that horizontal gene transfer occurs is frightening proof that we are playing Russian Roulette with our biosecurity and export image by conducting GE field trials." says Jon. "Yet ERMA is not even requiring testing for it, let alone stopping it."

"The refusal by the insurance industry to cover damage from GE indicates the size of the gamble. There is work on GE crops in the UK which will answer major scientific questions without the need for New Zealand to destroy it's clean green image trying to find out exactly the same thing."

"The least the Minister should be doing is halting all external field tests till this country can decide how to respond to the report of the Royal Commission. Instead, ERMA and the Minister are turning a blind eye to the genetic contamination and the government is busy trumpeting about how the HSNO Act is meant to protect us."

For more information contact Jon on 09 815 3370

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