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Green MP backs Hurunui mayor

17 August 2001

Green MP backs Hurunui mayor

Green MP and Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today said he fully supports Hurunui Mayor John Chaffey in his call for New Zealand to be 'environmentally free' of genetically engineered organisms.

Mr Ewen-Street said he agreed with Mr Chaffey's statement that research and experiments with genetic engineering could spell disaster for New Zealand's two main export industries if they lead to uncontrolled use of modified plants and animals.

"We have to realise that by losing any facet of our clean, green image we are seriously endangering our tourism and agriculture industries. At the moment, we have a definite trading advantage as a renowned producer of high quality conventional and organic food.

"As Mr Chaffey pointed out, the first generation of genetically engineered foods have proven to be a dismal failure, and producers of these foods in Australia and the USA are already facing overwhelming international resistance to their products.

"On an international scale, the perception of genetically engineered foods is largely negative and while there are still doubts as to the safety of such foods, it is our responsibility to prevent genetically engineered organisms from entering the food chain," he said.

"There are other issues at stake here too - for example, once genetically engineered organisms are released into the environment, there will be no way of stopping them from contaminating organic foods. Once that happens, people automatically lose the right to choose what they eat."

Mr Chaffey said a public meeting held in Hurunui revealed a general concern for the long-term implications of genetic engineering. 'No farm producer seriously expects a bonanza from GE - just the overseas corporates,' he said.

'The support for GE within some quarters of the primary production sector is an example of short-term economic thinking.'

However, he said contained experiments could be allowed to continue for medical research, as long as these did not affect the food chain - 'Similar to the numerous contained experiments and work done with nuclear products that do not affect New Zealand's nuclear free status.'


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