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PM 'Misled' Over GE Contamniation

PM 'Misled' Over GE Contamniation

28 July 2002

Prime Minister misled or "blinded" to overseas lessons on GM. Government warned to keep biotech industry at arm's length.

Comments from newly re-elected Prime Minister Helen Clark shows that she is being misinformed by her officials or is deliberately turning a blind eye to lessons from overseas regarding GM contamination.

In a interview on National Radio on Sunday morning Helen Clark claimed that experience in places like Europe, and Germany showed organic agriculture could co-exist with the spread of GE crops. The claim was used to justify her government's policy to drop the moratorium on commercial GE release next year.

But her views completely contradict recent research in Europe showing that not only would organic production become ruined by GE contamination, but that even conventional crops would be forced to incur significant extra costs in any attempts to stay uncontaminated.

The EU study received world-wide publicity when its findings were revealed a few months ago. Its findings confirmed farmers' actual experience in North America, and also the damage to Canada's honey export-industry that has resulted from GM contamination.

"The Prime Minister is being misinformed or is deliberately ignoring the data from overseas. Non-GM agriculture has repeatedly been compromised by contamination from GE crops when they are introduced. Is this what is planed for New Zealand?", says Jon Carapiet -a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

"The public cannot have confidence in the new governments management of GE if there is not a clear arms-length relationship between government officials and those vested interests promoting the use of GM in the open environment," says Mr Carapiet.

There is already evidence of an inappropriate relationship between government and publicly-funded organisations and the commercial GE sector.

GE-Free NZ (in food and environment) are demanding the government establish an inquiry into the corn contamination incident involving companies like Novartis, to ensure no future breaches of bio-security are sanctioned. The use of public for the Life Sciences Network's advertising campaign also needs to be investigated. The political role of the Life Sciences lobby must be scrutinised following last week's revelations that the organisation had set up a "hot-line" for political candidates to deal with questions from the public.

"Is this the kind of 'transparent' and 'independent' information that will really serve the national interest?" said Mr Carapiet. " The Prime Minister must show greater leadership on this issue rather than repeat industry propaganda which seems to have bamboozled her."

ENDS

Media contact Jon Carapiet - 09 815 3370


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