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Dunedin GE Free Rally

Press Release: Dunedin Coalition for a GE Free Environment. 6/10/01

The co-ordinators of today's GE Free Rally in Dunedin have declared the event a success. An estimated 350 locals attended the rally which was organised by the Dunedin Coalition for a GE Free Environment.

Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner said that concern over GE had drawn the largest crowd to the Octagon she had seen in her time as mayor.

A small group of less than 20 GE supporters attended, prompting a response from Coalition spokesperson Duncan Eddy:

“We’re not really on opposing sides of the fence. The issue is merely confused. They want G.E for medical and scientific research. We say, keep G.E in the lab and out of the environment, and keep it ethical. That won’t pose any major restriction on medicine and science, apart from a conscientious commitment to adhere to strict security and ethical standards.”

The crowd gathered at the Octagon and listened to several prominent speakers before marching down George Street to the Dunedin office of Labour M.P. Pete Hodgson.

The minister expressed his stance on the issue, and replied to the concerns of the crowd. Opinions about genetic engineering conveyed to the minister ranged from passionate and intelligent to expressions of outrage.

Eddy believed that the proportionate sizes of the pro GE and GE Free supporters at the rally were representative of New Zealand society. He warned Hodgson that the crowd might also be representative of voters at next years general election.

The GE Free issue has also become a local government issue, with many local council candidates conveying a commitment to a GE Free Dunedin environment. A petition calling for Dunedin to be declared a GE Free Environment has so far gathered over 2000 signatures and will soon be presented to the Dunedin City Council.

Speakers were: Mike Tritt of the Green Party, Ruth Lawson of Scientists and Physicians for Responsible Genetics, Joseph Dougherty of the Dunedin Environment Centre, and Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner.

For more information contact Duncan Eddy: 025 719 139

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