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RCGM Response to open letter

Response to open letter

Wellington - 30 November 2000: The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification rejects the allegations made today in an open letter to them.

"The Commission has developed a consultation process that allows people to expresses clearly their views in not one, but many ways," says Commission chairman Sir Thomas Eichelbaum. In addition to written submissions, the national public consultation programme involves three days of scoping meetings, 15 public meetings, 10 regional hui, over 25 workshops and 14 weeks of formal hearings at which 117 "interested persons" and their expert witnesses are making presentations.

These "interested persons", the largest number to be heard by any inquiry in this country, represent the interests of a diverse range of New Zealand people and organisations and their substantive submissions have proven most useful to the Commission's deliberations.

"We have made it clear from the outset of this process in June that submissions from the public are welcome and the 3000 or so submissions we have received to date is testimony to this. Submissions close at 5pm tomorrow."

The Commission acknowledges that public meetings were held on weekdays - in all but two centers, these were scheduled from 2pm until 8pm, and the format designed to allow access at any time, in order to meet the diverse requirements of the New Zealand public.

As a result of its paid advertising and the almost daily coverage by the New Zealand media of the Commission, its activities and the GM debate, the Commission believes the public has been adequately informed of the consultation process and the processes used have fully met the requirements of its terms of reference.

"The consultation process to date has brought to light the varied and diverse range of opinion on the risks and benefits of utilising genetic modification technology in this country. We have been delighted with the quality and quantity of input so far.

"We note that many of the signatories to this letter are "interested persons" and have yet to appear before the Commission during its formal hearings. They will have ample opportunity to present any points of view on GM that may have been overlooked."

Details regarding the Commission's process and its activities are available on its website: www.gmcommission.govt or from its office: 04 495 9151.

ENDS

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification was established by Order in Council on 8 May 2000 and is chaired by Sir Thomas Eichelbaum. The other members of the Commission are Dr Jacqueline Allan, Dr Jean Fleming and the Rt Rev Richard Randerson. The Commission is required to report by 1 June 2001.

Please note: For further information, please contact: Sarah Adamson, Media Relations Officer, phone: 04 495 9151 or 021 499 510.


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