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LSN rejects criticism of its funding sources

LSN rejects criticism of its funding sources


The Life Sciences Network strongly rejects any assertion that its Crown Research Institute members inappropriately contributed to the politically neutral information distribution activity undertaken by the Network over the last six weeks.

“The Network has worked for three years to ensure there is balance in the debate about GE and identified an increased need for this activity as a result of a decision to make GE a defining issue at this time. We would have responded in this way whether or not there had been an election,” said Chairman, Dr William Rolleston.

“Our policy on this was set early on. The agreed policy of the Network, which was adopted in June and circulated to member organisations is:

[ ] has just asked me to make it clear what criteria are being used to make decisions with respect to campaign activities.

As discussed by the Executive Board they are:
·The LSN will not support activities which are party political (i.e. are directed at persuading voters to vote for a particular party)
·We will not contribute money to campaigns being run by other organisations but we may contribute input in our area of expertise - the GM debate
·We will prepare and distribute information resources which inform and educate candidates for Parliament, the media and members of the public
·We will continue to challenge every misrepresentation or mistruth put into the public debate with facts
·We will use advertising and other channels to promote a positive message about New Zealand's use of GM
·We will only undertake activities we have received funding for from member organisations and other supporters
(extract from e-mail to member organisations dated 25 June 2002)

“Members of the Network are New Zealand and Australian national industry organisations, universities, research institutes, science organisations, grower organisations etc.

“Projects like the Royal Commission and the focused debate around the election are separately funded. We planned a programme of information distribution activities during the heightened focus on GE as a result of the election campaign to ensure debate about GE was balanced.

“This included provision of written resources to all candidates for Parliament who had not adopted a policy opposed to the outcomes of the Royal Commission and subsequent Parliamentary decisions. To have provided those resources to candidates who opposed GE would have been a waste of our members money.

“In addition we provided a GE-Info Hotline for candidates to provide access to scientists who could provide answers to detailed questions.

“It was clear from the start of the campaign that it would be difficult to get detailed messages through to the public by using the news media. Competition for space, time and attention would make this a difficult task.

“This is also recognised by the provision of tax-payer funded advertising time and space for political parties to get their messages through.

“Because it was evident that some parties may use their tax-payer funded election advertising to get anti-GE messages into the public arena we determined we would also use paid advertorials to get our message out there.

“We believe one of the features of a healthy democracy is one where opposing ideas can be freely exchanged in public without constraint provided they are lawful and are not defamatory.

“We live in a society which values informed decision making. The debate about the GE issue has already cost taxpayers millions of dollars for a Royal Commission and for nearly full-time Green Party involvement in that Royal Commission.

“I am confident we made a politically neutral reasoned contribution to an important debate for New Zealand. The LSN and its members have always stuck to the scientifically supportable facts in this debate and will continue to do so as long as we continue to have a democratic process of decision making in New Zealand,” concluded Dr Rolleston

From the LSN news team

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