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Public funding of GE ads "Unacceptable"

Public funding of GE ads "Unacceptable"

PRESS RELEASE- 25 July 2002


GE Free New Zealand (In Food And Environment) Inc.

Hodgeson's Backing for Public Subsidy of Biotech Industry PR 'Totally Unacceptable'.

It is totally unacceptable for Science Minister Pete Hodgeson to justify public money being used to help fund the Life Science Network's campaign promoting GE release advertised in national papers on Wednesday 24th July. An inquiry into public funding of the campaign should be held, and those involved brought to account.

GE-Free NZ (in food and environment) is alarmed at the undermining of independent and public-interest science as a result of the convergence of government policy with the private interests of companies investing in genetic engineering - including Crown Research Institutes.

'The drive for profits required from publicly-funded research is compromising good science, as these advertisements reveal," says Jon Carapiet, a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment). "The government's biotechnology strategy is a shambles because they prefer to get into bed with big-business and overseas speculators rather than pursue a direction for gene technology that fits with the values shared by communities in New Zealand," he says.

Mr Carapiet warns that this kind of public financing for private-interest lobbying is a symptom of a wider failure to prioritise the national interest over the pursuit of privatised profits. In an interview on National Radio, Mr. Hodgeson defended the funding, and claimed the money was well spent because the ads. contributed to the GM debate.

"It is outrageous for Pete Hodgeson to legitimate use of public funds for this propaganda by claiming the advertising brings facts and information to the debate. The advertising clearly does not do that. There are few facts that can actually be described as such, and the so-called information is clearly politically motivated. Public funding for this kind of political campaigning during an election period is just wrong," says Mr Carapiet.

GE-Free NZ ( in food and environment) believes a investigation is needed into financial links between corporate investors and publicly-funded research organisations to ensure the public interest is not subverted.

" This investigation could be part of the inquiry into the recent corn- contamination issue which clearly needs further study. This advertising just adds to concerns about the influence of companies like Novartis, and PR companies on government regulation of GM" says Mr. Carapiet.

Ends.

Media contact- Jon Carapiet- 09 815 3770

GE Free New Zealand (In Food And Environment) Inc. PO Box 693, Nelson gefree@ts.co.nz www.gefree.org.nz


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