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Federated Farmers Testifies To GM Royal Commission

22 November 2000 PR129/2000

FEDERATED FARMERS TESTIFIES TO GM ROYAL COMMISSION

Federated Farmers gave its testimony to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification today, pushing for New Zealand's agricultural sector to be allowed to use GM techniques on a case by case basis, under a thorough and meticulous safety system.

President Alistair Polson told the Commissioners that using GM technology must remain an option for farmers, so that they could used it when and where necessary to remain internationally competitive. He also said that farmers would make their production decisions based on consumer demand.

"What the federation wants is a regime that leaves production decisions in the hands of the industries and farmers involved, within a safe and effective regulatory regime," Mr Polson said.

"Past efforts by the Government to predict what our markets and consumers want to buy have led to disasters. The Government should set in place a rational decision making procedure that allows applications for GM use to proceed on a basis of sound risk management and good science."

"It would then be up to individual farmers to choose their production methods within that framework, knowing that their option of GM products would be safe to grow and use."

"Farmers want the choices to be left up to them, not removed or held back because of political concerns. If a specific use of GM technology is shown to be safe, then it should be available to New Zealand farmers as another option."

Mr Polson said that farmers were amongst the most cautious New Zealanders when it came to the safety of GM organisms. "Our families would live on our farms amongst any GM production systems, eat the final products, and rely on consumers to be willing to buy for our economic survival. We have every incentive to approach the adoption of GM production methods with the utmost caution."

ENDS For further information: Alistair Polson 025-370-085 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269

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