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Labour urges caution on GM plants

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Expert advice to the Government to put a hold on any applications for unrestricted release of genetically modified plants is welcome, says Labour's science spokesperson Mark Peck.

The Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council (IBAC) is recommending that any decision about the first release of GM plants should be delayed until IBAC's public consultation is completed - possibly within the next six months.

"IBAC's call for delay is sensible, but Labour still believes a more far-reaching public consultation process is necessary. That's why we would establish a Royal Commission on GM issues.

"While IBAC's consultation process is sound and helpful, Labour wants a public forum with a much higher public profile and participation rate.

Labour's GM discussion paper, released in June, proposed a ban on the commercial release of GM crops until after a Royal Commission reports. Hundreds of respondents have expressed their support for Labour's approach.

"It is good to see wise heads in the scientific community getting through to the Government the message that its hands-off approach won't do with such a sensitive issue as genetic modification. The public don't want this left entirely in the hands of the specialists at the Environmental Risk Management Authority.

"New Zealanders want to be consulted and informed on GM issues. Labour is determined to see they get the maximum opportunity for that."

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