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Proposals threaten to stop good science - LSN

Proposals threaten to stop good science - LSN

Tough new rules proposed by Cabinet to restrict the use of genetically modified organisms threaten to emasculate the Environmental Risk Management Authority and stop good science in its tracks, the chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston said today.

“The government is considering new rules regarding the management of GMOs which is a result of their cooperation agreement with the Greens. The rules, including increased public disclosure, a prescriptive segregation and traceability regime, and mandatory labelling will increase compliance costs for little benefit. The proposed strict liability regime will destroy innovation at a time when it is needed to increase food and crop production in the face of global warming and world population increases.

“Most worryingly the proposals recommend changes to the legislation allowing the Minister for the Environment to direct ERMA to make specific controls a mandatory requirement of any approval. Present legislation prohibits this.

“ERMA is the body established to assess the use of GMOs and is charged with setting controls to mitigate risk. ERMA must take a cautionary approach and base its decisions on sound science. What makes the Minister think he is more scientifically capable than ERMA?

GM crops have been used for more than a decade and by 2007, there were 55 million farmers in 23 countries growing GM crops on 114.3 million hectares without any incident of environmental damage or harm to human health attributable to genetic modification. The proposed rules are unnecessary, threaten scientific progress in New Zealand and send a dangerous message that the government believes safety is determined by politics not science,”concluded Dr Rolleston.

Life Sciences Network, 31 July 2008


ENDS

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