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Maori will welcome enhanced protection

30 October 2001 Media Statement

Maori will welcome enhanced protection over GM field trials but research concerns remain

Cabinet Minister Sandra Lee says Maori will welcome government decisions on the Royal Commission on GM to extend the protection from the previous moratorium on field trials, but will remain concerned about research that manipulates natural processes.

"The Royal Commission was left in no doubt that mixing the mauri, or life energy, of different species to create so-called transgenic organisms was generally repugnant to many Maori," she said.

"The government decision to legislate for the banning of the commercial release of GM organisms for at least two years will allow many of the enhancements recommended by the Royal Commission to be considered, including the introduction of a proposed Bioethics Council which would consider questions involving transgenic organisms," said Ms Lee.

"The Royal Commission identified Treaty principles relevant to the debate on genetic modification that included a duty by the Crown to actively protect Maori interests, and a requirement the Crown consult with Maori so as to make informed decisions about matters of significance," she said.

Ms Lee said the government had undertaken to review Treaty obligations in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.

She said the Royal Commission had recommended that the HSNO Act be amended to provide that "effect is to be given to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi".

"The government will address the Treaty provision in HSNO through amendments and also seek to address appropriate spiritual, cultural and economic issues," Ms Lee said.


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