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GM Royal Commission Completes Its Task

News release

Commission completes its task

Wellington - 27 July 2001: The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification today concluded its inquiry with the handing of its Report to the Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright, at 3:30pm at Government House.

The four-volume Report is the outcome of the Commission's 14-month inquiry. The Commission was set up to report to Government on the options available to New Zealand to deal with genetic modification, and to advise on appropriate changes to the relevant regulatory and policy arrangements.

"The Commission is pleased to present to the Governor-General a Report that addresses the issues raised in our terms of reference and is the product of an intensive period of consultation, consideration and writing," said Commission chair, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum.

"On this subject, so vitally important to New Zealand and New Zealanders, the Commission wished to recommend the best possible solutions and provide Government with a Report that would assist to address genetic modification issues now and for the future. We believe we have achieved this. We are pleased that, despite the complexity of the subject, we have been able to present a single, unanimous opinion.

"We have consulted widely to obtain the views of the New Zealand community, including those who did not elect to be involved in the debate. A point to emphasise is that this was an independent inquiry, not a referendum.

"The Commission would like to thank all who have participated for their contribution and for entering into the debate with such goodwill and vigour. An especially positive outcome is that there is now a central body of information available and we hope that the debate will continue in the same spirit.

"I would like to particularly thank my fellow Commissioners: Dr Jacqueline Allan, Dr Jean Fleming and the Right Reverend Richard Randerson, for their dedication to this inquiry."

Established on 8 May 2000, the Commission consulted extensively with the New Zealand public on a national basis. Its consultation processes involved scoping meetings and hui, 15 public meetings, 11 hui, 29 workshops, one youth forum and 13 weeks of hearings from 107 Interested Persons. The Commission also received more than 10,000 public submissions and conducted a public opinion survey of 1153 New Zealanders. The Commission's reporting date was extended from 1 June 2001 to 27 July 2001 to allow it time to consider all the evidence.

Cabinet allocated a provisional budget of $4.8 million to the Commission on 17 April 2000. This was extended to $6.2 million on 7 August 2000.

The Report was presented to the Governor-General as the Queen's representative. At the conclusion of the Government House presentation ceremony, Her Excellency forwarded the Report to Government.

A free copy of the Report will be placed on the Commission website (www.gmcommission.govt.nz) following its public release by Government on 30 July 2001. Copies of the Report (also available as a CD-ROM) will be made available for purchase at Bennetts Government Bookstores. Complimentary copies will also be forwarded to Interested Persons, the public library in each of the centres the Commission visited, each marae that hosted a Commission hui, and the council chambers in each of the centres the Commission held its public meetings.

ENDS

Media enquiries: The Commission office is now closed. There will be no comment on behalf of the Commissioners until the Report is publicly released. Media queries should now be directed to Karl Ferguson, Media Advisor, Ministry for the Environment, telephone 04 917 7400. Complimentary copies of the Report will be forwarded to members of the media who have covered the Commission inquiry to date.

Obtaining a copy of the Report: Queries regarding obtaining a copy of the Report should be directed to LegislationDirect on 04 496 5655 or the Department of Internal Affairs on 04 495 1200. The recommended retail price for the printed version is $45 (including GST) and $5 for the CD-ROM (including GST).

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