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Association of Crown Research Institutes On GM


MEDIA STATEMENT

For immediate release 30 October 2001

Association of Crown Research Institutes comment on GM decision


Dr John Hay, President of the Association of Crown Research Institutes (ACRI), expressed relief that the Government’s decision on genetic modification clarified the parameters within which science researchers, business and society in general now had to work.

Dr Hay also expressed delight that the major thrust of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification appeared to be incorporated in the Government’s decision.

Members of ACRI are each considering the Government’s decision, in light of their own level of current or potential involvement with biotechnology.

Dr Hay, who is also chief executive of ESR, cautioned however that the GM debate would continue, and that New Zealand should carefully assess how it managed debates on science-related issues.

Dr Hay said:

“All CRIs recognise the potential of biotechnology in generating benefits for the health, wealth and environment of New Zealanders.

“The Government’s decision today will directly impact on the business, research programmes and staff of the four CRIs most involved with biotechnology. However, each CRI will be studying the decision to assess the impacts upon its programmes.

“We now know the parameters within which we have to work for the next couple of years. It would be prudent to use the intervening time to ensure that we develop processes to avoid the uncertainty regarding commercialising GM products recurring.

“The CRIs are charged with helping build New Zealand’s research and knowledge base. New technologies are, by definition, part of that. Thus the process, as much as the decision on GM itself, has caused some anxiety to our staff and research partners, here and overseas. We hope however that they will be reassured by this outcome.

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“What this debate has shown is that all of us in New Zealand need to carefully assess how we manage discussion on such contentious matters. The GM debate is not over, and will not be the last on issues in which science provides immense opportunity and challenge to society.

“While such debates are, inevitably, about values, we have to ensure that they are also well-informed about risk and benefits and grounded in sound science.

“In that regard I have to acknowledge the hard work and genuine commitment of Ministers – and Pete Hodgson as Minister of Research, Science and Technology, deserves special mention here - in getting to grips with the topic and the implications.

“Many other MPs have also made similar efforts and the science community thanks them for that.”


ENDS


Notes to Editor
ACRI supports the common interests of the nine Crown-owned research companies, the largest providers of scientific research in New Zealand. The CRIs undertake blue-sky and commercialised science and technology research for government and private sector markets in New Zealand and abroad. In the year ended 30 June 2001, CRIs achieved $482.6 million in revenues, net profit after tax of $22.8 million and employed more than 4000 staff.

The nine CRIs are : AgResearch, Crop and Food, ESR, FRI, GNS, HortResearch, IRL, Landcare Research, NIWA.

For further information please contact:

Anthony Scott, executive director, ACRI
DDI: 04 471 3385 Mob: 027 222 7469

Dr John Hay, President of ACRI
Tel: 04 914 0700 Mob: 021 650 303

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