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Community backs GE-Free Campaigners with Award

www.gefree.org.nz

Press Release 5.11.01

Community backs GE-Free Campaigners with Award

GE Awareness Nelson group, won recognition within the local community on Friday, when it was a runner-up at the Eco-Fest environmental awards. This acknowledgement of the group's work to protect the environment comes at a time when GE free groups are being marginalised by government and biotech companies. The government’s apparent refusal to support the public majority for a GE Free New Zealand in food and environment forcing diverse GE Free groups nationwide to continue the campaign.

"The government, in full knowledge of the amount of public opinion against GE, now appear to have adopted the oldest tactic in the rule book, that of divide and conquer, it will not succeed," said Susie Lees of GE Free NZ to which the Nelson group is affiliated," the GE Free Nelson group have now been recognised within Nelson's local community."

The Royal Commission suggested GE Free zones could be instigated to ensure organic production could continue unimpeded. The government has made no reference to this in its reponse to the report. GE Awareness Nelson will be pushing for implementation of local zoning.

" The different responses of the thousands of ordinary New Zealanders were not properly reflected in recent statements in the NZ Herald, the views of our organisation acknowledges the range of positions in the community.' says Susie Lees, "GE-Free NZ's will focus on actions with which all members can feel comfortable, our aim being to protect the public and our precious environment from unforseen damage."

"We will initially look at proposed legislation, and stricter controls to be implemented, and then at any applications to ERMA, and take the approval and planting of field trials on a case by case basis. We trust that government economic analysis of the threat from GE commercial release is completed before their "pragmatic" decision destroys our future," said Susie Lees, "the recent drop in the NZ dollar after the identification of a cross species infection emerging in the Waikato demonstrates the sensitivity of food exports to such outbreaks".

"Proposals to amend laws and the criteria for releases of GMOs with medical potential will have to be agreed before they are implemented, any potential for damage to public and environmental health will need to be closely scrutinised," said Susie Lees."We will also be watching carefully to ensure government does not ignore other Royal Commission recommendations including that to immediately fund consumer advertising about the GE food-labelling scheme and the right to know what GE foods are being hidden, unlabelled in takeaways, cafes and bakeries."

The government says a partial labelling regime is to begin on December 7th.
END

For more info:-Susie Lees 03 546 7966
Jon Carapiet :-09 815 3370

Nelson was the first city, in New Zealand, to be declared symbolically GE Free by council, in April this year. A 2 year campaign gaining over 4000 signatures to a petition and over 100 businesses support in the city, involved 2 close prior votes by council in 1999. The final vote was 8:3 in support with one abstention.


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