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Govt. Pushes NZ Along Genetic Engineering Path

The Government is giving New Zealand a strong push along the risky genetic engineering pathway with today's science spending announcements, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"National is ignoring the lucrative organic farming alternatives and the huge backlash by European consumers against genetic engineering," she said. "New Zealand is about to become known as the genetic engineering test ground of the southern hemisphere, losing completely its former clean, green image in agriculture."

Today Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford announced what he called a $36 million New Economy Research Fund to generate ideas for the "businesses and industries of tomorrow".

According to Mr Bradford's press release: "The changes are essential to the future of the rural industries. We must increase the level of high value added produce from the land through biotechnology and other research. The New Economy Research Fund is designed to do just that."

Ms Fitzsimons said: "Biotechnology is the most common term used by New Zealand genetic engineers to describe their work.

"Obviously Mr Bradford is avoiding the 'bad press' term genetic engineering, but he must come clean and tell the public how much more genetic engineering research and genetically engineered crop releases are likely because of this new scientific direction.

"He must also say whether he has carried out risk assessment into the danger of this genetic engineering pathway to New Zealand's $65 million organic farming industry."

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