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GE 'caution' submissions ignored

GE 'caution' submissions ignored

Submissions opposing GE release were either blocked or ignored by the select committee considering the latest GE Bill, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says today.

And the short timeframe for considering the bill meant the committee did not seriously engage with the strong scientific submissions received, urging caution on GE.

In a speech to the House, scheduled for this evening during the second reading of the New Organisms and Other Matters Bill, Ms Fitzsimons says the select committee process was a charade. "I felt embarrassed by being part of it, even as a non-voting member.

"Rigid rules were set that submissions that arrived after the due date were rejected without any attempt even to find out if they had arrived at Parliament but not at the select committee office. Submissions which did not have 20 copies were rejected."

And while the education and science committee spent several days listening to the remaining submissions, of which there were many, only one meeting was set down to consider all the issues raised. "I managed to get that extended to two, but that was still totally inadequate to consider the serious and well researched submissions," Ms Fitzsimons says.

The committee never engaged with the scientific issues raised by a number of experts, like University of California geneticist Professor David Williams, and Professor Dave Schubert from the Salk Institute in California, who warned of serious flaws in our understanding of genetic science. Their warnings mean it is not safe to allow these new organisms outside a contained lab.

"I hope the Government will never again try to claim that its policies on GE are science-based when they have so blatantly ignored the views of so many qualified scientists," Ms Fitzsimons says.

The committee also did not take any notice of big food producers like Zespri and Enza, which said their markets do not want GE food; fast-growing niche marketing producers who have built their business and profits on New Zealand's GE-free reputation; or local authorities, who want clarity around their legal rights and responsibilities in relation to GE, and a voice on what is allowed in their communities.

"So the bill is back in the House, hardly changed at all in spite of the many days of hearings and the quality of the evidence presented," Ms Fitzsimons says. Tonight, she will warn fellow MPs that if they vote for this bill, they will be personally responsible for the release of GE crops, animals and micro-organisms into the environment - not only against the wishes of the vast majority of submitters but also against the clearly expressed will of 68 per cent of the public.


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