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Need For More Information On Genetic Modification

Research Indicates Need For More Information On Genetic Modification In New Zealand

Almost half of New Zealanders say they are uninformed about genetic modification, while most of the remainder say they are ‘just informed’ according to research commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment.

The research, which was conducted before the Government announced its response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, was designed to help the Ministry understand people’s knowledge of genetic modification, whether they would like to know more about it, and how they would like to receive information. The Ministry is responsible for leading the Government’s policy work and public information about genetic modification.

The survey, which was conducted by telephone, had a sample size of 600 and was conducted nationally, both in rural and urban centres. The sample was split evenly between Pakeha and Maori.

Ministry for the Environment Communications manager Kathy McNeill says the research clearly shows that many New Zealanders do not feel well informed about genetic modification  and they would like to know more.

“Of those we surveyed, 80 percent said they would like to find out more about genetic modification and how it is controlled in New Zealand, while many said they wanted to know a lot more.”

In response to the survey findings, the Ministry is working on providing more public information. The first step in this is a simple brochure which gives an overview of genetic modification in New Zealand and outlines the Government’s key decisions.
A more detailed booklet will be available early in the New Year.

Mrs McNeill says the information is being developed jointly with the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Forestry and Research Science and Technology.

“Our main goal is to help answer some of the questions people currently have about genetic modification, such as what it is, and how it is used and controlled, in a simple and clear way.”

Mrs McNeill says the Ministry plans to distribute the information widely to schools, public libraries and others in early 2002.

The brochure can be downloaded from the Ministry’s website  www.mfe.govt.nz or is available by phoning (04) 917-7493.

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