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Anderton Calls For Honest Debate On GM

19 September 2001 Media Statement

Deputy Prime Minister and Alliance leader Jim Anderton is concerned that the Alliance position on genetic modification position is being deliberately misinterpreted by people who wish to polarise the debate.

"The Alliance has taken a considered, pragmatic approach. We have stated we believe there should be a further moratorium on non-contained genetically modified organisms until the technology is proven to be safe.

"If organisations such as the Grassland Association interpret this as a ban forever then obviously they have no confidence in GMOs ever being proved to be safe. If they know something we don't about GM then they should share it for the benefit of everyone.

"We know there are consumer and export industry concerns about GM and we need to be sensitive to this. Our reputation as a clean, green, food producer is absolutely paramount for our export markets," said Jim Anderton.

The Alliance has said that the same restrictions should apply to field trials during a new moratorium as applied during the successful moratorium of 2000/01.

This does not disallow field trials but ensures that where reproductive structures develop these must be removed to prevent the escape of genetically modified material.

"We have stated that we support New Zealand laboratory based research into genetically modified organisms. We have no difficulty with research that is contained. No other position can possibly preserve opportunities," said Jim Anderton.

The Royal Commission found uncertainties about the risks and effects of genetic modification on the environment, human health and our economy. The Commission concluded that more research is needed before genetically modified organisms could be released and the Alliance position is consistent with this.

"I welcomed the Royal Commission's report because the Alliance called for it in the first place," said Jim Anderton.

Ends

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