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GE Possums Opposed by Forest and Bird

Media Release - Wellington - 8 February 2001

GE Possums opposed by Forest and Bird

The Forest and Bird Protection Society today expressed its opposition to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to control possums at the hearing of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification.

Society spokesperson, Peter Maddison said it was doubtful whether Genetic Engineering (GE) control of possum would work. "Killing possums through poisons is more effective control than sterilising them with a GE agent. New Zealand wildlife and forests are under sustained attack from possums. We cannot afford to wait for a dubious GE silver bullet."

Dr Maddison said current indications were that some possums would be resistant to any GE vector. "New Zealand needs to consider what impact any agent would have on marsupials in Australia if any release crossed the Tasman."

"While we are concerned at the long-term use of 1080 to control possums, the Society recognises that eradication of possums in some areas was the lesser of two evils.

Dr Maddison said other issues raised in the Society submission included opposition to field testing of GMOs, concern over the use of GMOs in cleaning up toxic sites, and the need to improve border control.

"The Society is opposed to release of GMOs beyond contained facilities. In addition, containment procedures needed to be improved to ensure any accidental release does not occur."

Contact: Peter Maddison ph: (04) 385-7374 work Contact: Keith Chapple ph: (04) 385-7374 work or 025-517-020

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