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The voters dilemma, which polls to believe

The voters dilemma, which polls to believe

The Chairman of the Life Sciences Network has taken issue with the results of a Green Party poll on the GE question.

Dr William Rolleston says the survey is hard to believe when it’s put in the context of other surveys which have used much larger samples and asked more detailed questions. “The Green survey allows no framework within which to make a sensible judgment – a simple yes or no question does not do justice to the complex nature of the issues.”

The results of the poll conducted for the Green Party claimed to show the majority of New Zealanders want a GE free country.

The Consumer Link survey questioned 476 respondents and asked two questions.

To the question “Do you think that living genetically engineered organisms should be kept in a contained laboratory?” to which, 64 per cent said yes, 24 per cent said no and 11.5 per cent didn’t know

To the question “Do you think that farming of genetically engineered crops and animals should be allowed in New Zealand?” 46 per cent said no, 35 per cent said yes and 17.5 per cent didn’t know.

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons hailed the results as a vindication for the Green Party.

“This poll shows the clear majority of people share the Green vision of keeping GE in the lab and keeping our environment GE-free,” she said.

“The Green party poll is seriously at odds with the poll published in the National Business Review on Friday,” says Dr Rolleston.

“Maybe this is what Dr Klaus Amman meant when he said to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, ‘you can trust only those statistics which you have falsified yourself!”

The nationwide survey of 750 people done by UMR Research for NBR-HP Invent painted a very different picture.

According to the NBR poll fewer than half of the Green Party’s own supporters (42 per cent) backed their party’s official view advocating a total ban of GM.

53 per cent of Green voters preferred the Labour-led government’s position based on the royal commission.

Overall, only 15 per cent of those participating in the survey took the official Green view and supported a ban, while 76 per cent believed this country should proceed cautiously with all the safeguards recommended by the royal commission.

An NBR poll last November found 67 per cent of people supported the government’s decision on GM, a move to open the way the way for field trials of GM products but on a case-by-case basis with strict controls and monitoring.

The most recent poll suggested the figure had increased to 76 per cent.

These figures are reinforced by two recent studies done in the United States and New Zealand, Director of the Life Sciences Network William Rolleston said.

“Both studies clearly show that when people who have had the regulatory process of GM technology explained to them, they shift from being uncomfortable to being cautiously optimistic,” he said.


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