Interchurch Commission On GE Responds To Report
Interchurch Commission On Ge Responds To Government Report
In commenting on the Government’s response to the Royal Commission’s report, the Interchurch Commission on Genetic Engineering supports the two year moratorium on commercial release of GMOs. This time should be used to put in place rules and regulations regarding commercial release. Scientific technologies need to be further developed to investigate safety issues and concerns such as dissemination of GMOs and GM products. Further research needs to be undertaken into social, ethical and spiritual implications of GM technologies and liability requirements need to be investigated. Work needs to be done on the preparation and provision of accurate information to all members of society on GM issues as they arise. We emphasise that the moratorium should be part of a definite plan to answer the concerns raised in the Royal Commission’s report and to act upon its recommendations.
We also support the Government’s decision to allow the continuation of GM plant field trials, provided these are carried out under strict conditions. However, we are concerned about laboratory or field animal trials if they involve the transfer of human genes into higher animals. These raise major cultural and spiritual concerns and negotiation and amelioration must take place to work through these issues in each case.
We fully support the establishment of a Bioethics Council to advise, provide guidelines and promote dialogue on the cultural, ethical and spiritual issues associated with biotechnology. This will broaden the basis of decision-making. We request however, that the guidelines promulgated by the Bioethics Council should be binding, rather than advisory. We also request that the government extend the Minister’s ‘call-in’ powers regarding any application to ERMA to include “significant cultural, ethical and spiritual issues”, as recommended by the Royal Commission.
The Government has indicated that it will further investigate the question of liability for GM related issues. This is necessary to ensure that companies and growers take responsibility for any effect of the use of GM crops on other producers.