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GM Decision To Test PM

25 October 2001

GM Decision To Test Whether PM Is Politician Or Stateswoman

Prime Minister Helen Clark has an opportunity next week in the decision on genetic modification to demonstrate whether she is simply a politician or has the steel of a stateswoman. This has been stated today by Terry Dunleavy, national convenor of Bluegreens, an independent advisory group set up to advise the National Party on environment and heritage issues.

“As the first minister in a Cabinet divided on the issue, and leader of a coalition government similarly divided, Miss Clark will have a powerful influence on the decision to be made by Cabinet next week whether to accept the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification or to extend the present moratorium,” said Mr Dunleavy. “Fairly or unfairly, she will wear the consequences of the decision, whether it bows to baseless fears whipped up by a political zealots in left wing minor parties, or it acknowledges the logic of science as accepted by the Royal Commission with benefits to be derived from a knowledge wave economy.

“What seems to have been overlooked in the war or words which has raged in the scaremonger tactics of the Green Party and the Alliance versus the largely science based and economic arguments of the proponents of GM, has been the care taken by the Royal Commission to ensure that GM trials in New Zealand continue to be subject to some of the strictest regulatory controls in the world, and on a case by case basis.

“Bluegreens believe that the requirements of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO) do protect the environment and the health and safety of people and communities, as stated by the Commission in para 6.42 of its report. Under that Act the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has been established to take responsibility for granting or refusing approval for:
 importing any genetically modified organisations into containment
 developing any genetically modified organism
 conducting contained field tests (trials)
 releasing any contained or imported genetically modified organism.

“Bluegreens is satisfied that ERMA has the powers and resources necessary to ensure that the wildly exaggerated horror stories being spread by the Greens and the Alliance will never be allowed to happen in New Zealand. And that all trials, for whatever purpose, and whether in the laboratory or tested in the field will be permitted only after rigorous examination by ERMA and will be subjected to adequate monitoring.

“If no one else in her Cabinet or Government realises it, Miss Clark knows that the Greens have had the Royal Commission they asked for even if they don’t like its conclusions, they’ve had the voluntary moratorium to allow for that commission’s report to be formulated and its recommendations to be studied. Now it’s time to let the scientists get on with the job under the ever watchful regulatory eye of ERMA,” said Mr Dunleavy.

ends

Terry Dunleavy, tel (09) 486 3859 - mobile (025) 836688 – email: terry@winezeal.co..nz

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