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Call for Labour delegates to back 5-yr moratorium

Press Release- GE-FREE NZ (in food and environment)

Call for Labour delegates to back 5-year moratorium on GE releases- may prompt internal strife

Saturday 18th May 2002

This weekend delegates at the Labour Party national conference in Wellington were urged by supporters of a GE-Free food and environment to demand a change in Labour party policy on Genetic Engineering. Many delegates welcomed the call and wore badges saying " I support a GE-Free Aotearoa New Zealand" into the event.

But Internal pressure for Labour to heed urgent scientific warnings on GE is likely to grow following last week's vote on the automatic lapse of the moratorium on releases in October 2003.

Internal conflict is likely after comments from finance Minister Michel Cullen (as acting Minister of Agriculture) - that the Labour government rejects a 5-year moratorium in New Zealand or as part of an international agreement supporting the precautionary principle.

'The government is refusing to recognise the breakdown in international regulation and the rule of law relating to GM products. They are failing to take the scientific warnings seriously," said Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

In a written response Dr Cullen rejected the call for New Zealand to advocate internationally for a moratorium on GM crops, saying " We believe countries must determine for themselves whether or not and under what conditions to plant GM crops, just as we will do here."

"The cabinet are out of touch with the science and their own party supporters. But the response was very positive from many delegates, and the issue will be discussed further at the local branches," said Jon who joined local GE-Free supporters, and about 40 other people from peace and justice lobby groups who greeted the delegates.

"The New Zealand government can't carry on hiding behind their claims that their policy is in development. The GE corn contamination in Central America is a signal event that the world is waking up to. Time has run out", said Mr Carapiet.

ENDS- The text of the letter to delegates follows media contact- Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370


Dear delegate,

Government policy on GE is about to destroy this country's opportunity to turn our clean, green, natural image into a reality.

Labour must stop GE release into the environment for at least 5 years. Your policy must reflect the wider community vision for Aotearoa New Zealand, and keep ethical GE uses inside.

There can be no more delay in adopting this policy. Time has run out. You are passing a law that automatically lapses in October 2003 to allow commercial GE release to be approved.

Step by step your policy will result in our food and environment being contaminated forever- destroying our exports, our tourism image, and our right to choose.


GE in the open environment is proving to spread- uncontrollably. Scientists have confirmed the original source of all the world's maize has been contaminated by fragments from GE crops. This was announced on 18 April, 2002 at the Convention on Biodiversity meeting at the Hague (www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/)

The food industry already claims it is not possible to label foods "GE free" without misleading people, because GE contamination is so widespread. ALL food, including organics, will soon be forced to allow GE contamination, because those promoting it cannot stop its spread. There will be no choice.

Farmers' livelihoods are threatened as insurance companies have refused to cover GE damage. Natural systems and our basic moral values are threatened by Terminator technology that creates barren seeds to control corporate patents on genes.

Even before the Bio Ethics Council -Toi te Taiao- has sat, there are plans for more GE cows - using a cocktail of human and other genes for "scientific interest" - threatening our values, our export image and bio-security, but without any promise of proven medical benefit.

What is Labour's strategic vision?

Will it reflect the values and aspirations of the majority of people in Aotearoa New Zealand? Or will it be a product of greed - driven by the avarice of multinationals and local biotech-entrepreneurs, and by the hubris of scientists who in their ignorance feel justified in experimenting with our most precious land and people?

Please help Labour find a vision that keeps our food and environment GE-Free

This is your conference. DO SOMETHING. Kia Kaha.

from the Concerned citizens of Aoteraoa New Zealand

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