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GE decision not 'middle of the road'

30 October 2001

GE decision not 'middle of the road'

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said the Government had ignored the wishes of nearly two thirds of New Zealanders by lifting the moratorium on GE field trials.

"Sixty two per cent of New Zealanders said last week that they did not want GE outside the lab. The lifting of this moratorium shows Government is more concerned about business than the views of voters," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said she was pleased the Government had agreed to a legislated two year moratorium on GE release, but said the Greens would fight through the next election for a GE free New Zealand.

"As the only party in Parliament committed to a GE free future we will now push harder than ever to represent the majority of New Zealanders who believe that GE has no place in Aotearoa outside the lab.

"This package is not a middle of the road solution. It is not Green policy and we have not signed up to it. A middle of the road solution would be one that appealed to a majority of voters and that majority is quite clear that they do not want field trials and or any use of GE out in the environment."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Greens had pushed the Government as far and as hard as they could in negotiations on this issue and that the final package was significantly better than earlier proposals.

"These gains we have made on preventing commercial release in this country are too important to risk by withdrawing confidence from the Government. A multinational company was ready to commercially release a GE crop here in 1999 but it did not go ahead, it's now 2001 and we've gained a further two year breathing space."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Greens will be looking very closely at the detail of the Government's legislation.

"The conditions around field trial use might still allow most field trials to go ahead, given the way ERMA has interpreted its Act so far. The commission's recommendation that research around horizontal gene transfer and impacts on soil and ecology should be done before release went ahead has not been met."

The Greens accept the exemption to release for human vaccines, but are very concerned about the exemption allowing possible widespread use of GE animal vaccines and the risk to the environment.

ENDS

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