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Scientists And Physicians Call For Caution On GE

29 October 2001

Scientists And Physicians Call For Cautionary Decision By Government

PSRG today presented to Parliament an Open Letter endorsed by prominent New Zealand physicians and scientists, and prominent overseas scientists. The public were also given a means to voice their concerns. Over 700 signatories signed PSRG's Open Letter.

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics (PSRG) ask the Government to take the precautionary approach and make a common-sense decision to extend the moratorium on field trials and commercial release of genetically engineered organisms.

The Report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification was clear that research should precede any release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. The dominant experience of problems encountered overseas - for example, in Tasmania where the federal government acknowledges that transgenic DNA has escaped from field trial sites - should be a salutary warning to New Zealand.

A recent report from Chen Palmer and Associates deals with the question of accountability. Any developer of genetically engineered organisms should produce independent studies ensuring safety and be fully accountable for possible consequences. Such consequences should not become a cost on society.

Overseas companies are looking to New Zealand's current GE-free environment to grow seed that can be guaranteed free of transgenic DNA. New Zealand's export markets have made it resoundingly clear they do not want transgenic contamination of their purchases. Polls show the larger portion of New Zealand farmers prefer sustainable methods of agriculture to GE agricultural practices, and the majority of New Zealand's public have made it clear they do not want genetically engineered organisms in the environment or on their table.

Signatories can be viewed on www.psrg.org.nz.

(264 words)

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29 October 2001

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