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Government Funding Way Off Track

10 May 2002

A message has gone to the ministers responsible for public funding through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology; asking for justification of the focus on biotech funding at the expense of research into more sustainable farming practices, the limited funding of the risks of gene technology and lack of any funding for research into organics.
A recent decision by research centres in North Dakota not to grow GE wheat is at odds with New Zealand's decision to put $22 million into plant gene technologies.

"This shows how out of touch the government is with current thinking on the future of gene technology in crops," said a representative of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment. " Consumers worldwide are rejecting GE foods. The problems we are now seeing with alliances between corporate funding and public good science is that the research that emanates as a result is not in the public interest."

Recent news about contamination of corn and the resulting impact on heritage seed varieties in Mexico confirmed at the Hague by the Mexican President, and a recent report from the UK shows that the source of genetic pollution by canola of thousands of acres in the UK cannot be established.

"It is absurd that a mere $1 million is to be spent studying the risks of modified genes infecting other organisms, to prove it is safe and still 'preserves our opportunities', we need to be certain there is no risk to public health or the environment."

GE Free groups were expecting that publicly funded research would address suspected contamination of the HortResearch tamarillo trial in Northland, where public concerns about the site were justified in the findings of the Royal Commission report.

ENDS

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