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NEWSFLASH: Royal Commission Report Released

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification has backed the limited use of genetic engineering technology in its report released by the government at a press conference in the Beehive this afternoon.

The Commission concludes its report - which has been described in early reaction as a “fence sitting exercise” – saying; “There are aspects of GM we consider to be positive and helpful, which hence have an important part to play in the future of New Zealand.”

“We favour a strategy of preserving opportunities and proceeding selectively with appropriate care,” the commissioners said.

Introducing the report, Prime Minister Helen Clark said she, “wouldn’t describe this as a fence sitting report. It’s a very thorough and measured report.”

Also at the press conference, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said, “NZers want to have opportunities, but have their safety assured.”

Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson meanwhile said, “Call it fence sitting if you will, balanced is a good word for it.”

The ministers said the government will respond officially to the report in three months time.

There is no word yet on the voluntary moratorium on GM field trials which environmentalists want extended when it expires at the end of August.

Asked about the moratorium, Mr Hodgson said the government may request for it be extended.

Among the ideas suggested in the report is that of mechanisms to manage the coexistence of different kinds of agriculture. For example some parts of the country could be GE-free.

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