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An open letter to GE-Free NZ and the Green Party

An open letter to GE-Free NZ and the Green Party, in response to the GE-Free survey of candidates' views

(copy to Antony Paltridge - Evening Post)

Dear Toni,

My position on genetic modification/engineering is clear.

I support the exhaustively researched and well reasoned conclusions of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. They lead to a good balance of all the issues including health and economic benefits, knowledge gain, risks and their management, co-existence of various crop forms, and environmental, ethical, cultural and spiritual considerations.

I advocate their implementation in full by the government, and encourage all the public to actually read the report for objective information on GM. There they will recognise the great opportunities available from GM, when managed and controlled within the framework proposed by the Commission.

As a District Health Board candidate for the Lambton ward I will encourage research, clinical trials and application of all evidence based medicines, whether conventional, complementary, produced from GM processes, or containing GM organisms, subject to the usual research and medicine approval processes.

I will specifically oppose any suggestion that GM or GMOs in medicine be restricted or banned, and I certainly will not support any proposal for GE-free zones.

Further, I object to the campaign of mis-information and scaremongering currently waged by the GE-Free coalition and the Greens, about genetic engineering and its consequences.

Just like the leader of the Greens, Jeanette Fitzsimons, your Coalition's statements on this issue are frequently full of errors and deliberate mis-statement of facts. For example, she continues to maintain arguments about production of human enzymes from yeast and bacteria, rather than animals, when those claims were successfully rebutted at the Commission's hearings. She continues to misrepresent the issues about the myelin basic protein research with the transgenic cows.

Your policies and her's, directly threaten one currently available GMO medicine, and place at risk the impending development of more. They also serve to undermine the acceptance of substantial benefits currently available from a significant number of GM-derived medicines, and the expected arrival of many more very soon.

Your policy "double speak" about medical application of GM, tries to present you both as accommodating of medical applications, but the fine print makes it clear that, for example, you would not allow the research on the cows nor release of GMO medicines.

Your policies and those of the Greens, will deny health improvement to thousands of New Zealander in the future, and make continued health problems, severe disability and early death, mandatory for many of them.

In my candidacy and if elected, I will not be pressured nor intimidated by ignorance and the passions it inflames. I stand firmly for knowledge gain with proper controls, for the benefit of all. I respect you right to promote your views, but I object to your attempts to impose your GE-Free religion on the whole community.

You are promoting a belief system, not facts, and I condemn you for your insistence that we should all conform to your views. The policies of GE-Free NZ and the Greens, on this topic, are dangerously undemocratic.

Finally, a question for you. Do you lie awake at night regretting we cannot turn back time 200 years, so that "un-natural" modification of viruses into vaccines could be stopped at the experimental stage? Granted, we would still have smallpox, polio, measles, whooping cough, and many other serious diseases ravaging the world and causing death and misery to millions each year, but if you survived you would no doubt be wonderfully happy in the knowledge that no-one tampered with the "natural" order of things in your luddite world.

Regards,

John Forman Current Board Member and Candidate for Lambton Ward Capital & Coast District Heath Board

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