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Tony Blair Government backtracks on GE

One can't help stifling a reflexive yawn at the latest UK headlines that the Blair Government is backtracking on GE.(1) One wonders just how long it takes for information to sink down through the clay of government bureaucracy. Jeanette Fitzsimons might well ask the Prime Minister to consider her UK-counterpart's position on GE. Let's face it, she has had more than sufficient information showing its drawbacks. Biotech firms, now understandably hypersensitive to criticism of their "wonder crops," are even condemning the BBC production of "Fields of Gold." Frankly, I can't wait to see it.

Genetic engineering is the biggest bio-security threat NZ has ever faced. Its agriculture is critically vulnerable to this threat and releasing it may well alter forever the history of NZ farming - and not necessarily for the better. We must hope that, unlike Tony Blair, our government does not want a bob each way to "suck it and see." Many of the so called UK trials have been, like those in Tasmania, an environmental and bureaucratic nightmare.(2) Other countries such as US and China, after only 5 years of growing Bt cotton are left with severe environmental impacts and crop failures.(3)

Pretending that only the Greens and a few unwashed activists are opposed to releasing GE into their environment is grossly misleading. Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics, together with the majority of informed public, have constantly shown their opposition to releasing GEO's into the environment or our food. Furthermore, the reassurances of having a rigorous inspection regime is lamentable judging by the Tamarillo trials in Northland or the engineered salmon farce.

There is a growing public distrust of multinationals that dominate the food and agricultural industries and MP's elaborate vote catching antics will gain little ground by denying the rapidly growing opposition to this formidable technology. As Ms Fitzsimmons said, "If Tony Blair can think again, so can Helen Clark."

Sincerely Dr Robert Anderson Member Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics www.psrg.org.nz

1. UK Observer reports that this concession could halt plans for the commercial growing of GE crops in Britain. http://www.observer.co.uk/science/story/0,1596,726539,00.html

2. Tasmania canola trials a nightmare. Andrew Darby., Mark Metherell, Friday, July 21, 2000 http://www.smh.com.au/news/0007/21/national/national1.html

3. Adverse Environmental Impacts, Bt Cotton In China Beijing/London, 3 June, 2002 Scoop http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/SC0206/S00001.htm

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