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Life Sciences Network Claims Considerable Credit

LSN Media Release: October 30, 2003

The Life Sciences Network can claim considerable credit for the fact the debate about gene technology has now been taken into a considered forum the Chairman of the Network told the organisation’s annual meeting today.

“Four years ago the biology based industries faced a crisis. Negative views about genetic modification threatened to seriously undermine our scientific capability and to propel us into the third world,” said Dr William Rolleston.

“The overwhelming majority of scientists and organisations involved in the adoption of new biological technologies were frustrated at the lack of balance in the public debate about GM. The formation of the network was a direct result of that frustration.

“We can now say the Life Sciences Network has been instrumental in shifting the public and policy debate onto a much sounder basis.

“The Royal Commission reflected the weight of scientific and other evidence presented to it; the Government made sensible decisions to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the result is that we now have a robust, certain and transparent process for consideration of issues about release of GMOs into the environment.

“We have come to this point despite the strenuous efforts of opponents to derail the process, misrepresent the science and create fear in the public mind.

“From today the appropriate uses of gene technology for New Zealand’s economic, health and environmental benefit will be determined on a case by case basis. All citizens will have access to that process.

“The only substantial risk which remains is that some fundamentalist opponents will set themselves outside the laws of a democratic society and try to impose their minority views through intimidation, direct action and destruction of property and research. The Courts, the Police and other enforcement agencies must take these threats seriously and ensure the full weight of the law follows convictions.

“Our cautious system of evaluation and considered approval will, in time, assure the public that approved use of GM is safe,” concluded Dr Rolleston.

From the LSN news team

Francis Wevers - Executive Director
Christine Ross - Communications Assistant, Wellington

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