GE free NZ now up to the people
30 October, Wellington. The government’s GE policy released today goes no way towards addressing the concerns raised over genetic engineering. A ‘constraint period’ on commercial release, and no substantial changes to the way field trials are conducted shows a blatant disregard for the environment and for public opinion said Greenpeace.
“The government’s position is a window dressing. By allowing GE field trials, the decision has sidelined overwhelming rejection of GE in the environment by the public (1) and by tangata whenua. There is no strict liability regime, and this policy will not protect the environment,” said Annette Cotter, GE campaigner.
“The government has done no favours for the environment today, and has failed to understand the nature of GE technology. In fact, their criteria for field trials is weak at best. The controls will not contain genetic material, and do not address the key concerns that have been raised about field trials, like horizontal gene transfer, ecological impacts, or cultural impacts of GE testing.
“Greenpeace has no faith in ERMA, who have approved every field trial to date. The conditions outlined by the government for field trials do not give any further assurances. There have been many documented breaches of GE field trial licences already in NZ, including with salmon, tamarillos, peas and potatoes. Overseas examples in Tasmania, Western Australia and Canada also confirm the inability of genetic material to be contained.
“There is nothing precautionary about the measures outlined today,” continued Cotter. “The only safe place for genetic research is a properly contained laboratory.”
“Pressure from the public has ensured a legislated moratorium on commercial releases of GE, albeit for only a short time. But by artificially differentiating between field trials and commercial releases with their policy today, the government has fallen woefully short of their obligations to New Zealanders, and the integrity of the environment.”
“Many voters will be very displeased with this decision, and each GE field trial application will be fought. The issue of genetic engineering, and the desire for a GE free NZ will not go away.”
For more information: Contact Annette Cotter, GE Free Campaigner, 021 565 175, or Brendan Lynch, Communications Officer, 025 790 817
(1) A TV1 poll last week said that 62% of New Zealanders wanted the extension of the current moratorium on field trials