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NZBIO welcomes Government’s GMO review


NZBIO welcomes Government’s GMO review


Auckland September 5 2016: NZBIO says the Government’s decision to review local government involvement in regulating Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is sensible.

Dr Will Barker, chief executive of NZBIO, says it has never made sense to duplicate the role of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in regulating the use of GMOs throughout New Zealand.

NZBIO, which represents the majority of bio scientists in New Zealand, last week warned that the country was in danger of becoming a back-water for bioscience after an appeal by Federated Farmers against councils in Northland, who wanted to be able to ban GMOS using the Resource Management Act, was dismissed.

The Government’s review comes on the back of Auckland’s Council’s Unitary Plan now deferring to that Northland judgment when it comes to the use of GMOs in its boundary. Environment Minister Nick Smith says that now puts a liver cancer treatment trial at Auckland Hospital at risk.

In his statement Dr Smith says: “The problem with councils regulating in this area is that they do not have the technical expertise, resulting in regulations that have unintended consequences. The further problem is that there are no biosecurity controls between councils, so having different rules in what organisms are allowed in different districts becomes a nonsense.”

Dr Barker says NZBIO has been calling for a public debate on GMO since the science around genetic modification has developed significantly since the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act was enacted in New Zealand 1996.

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“Many New Zealanders still rely on emotive, 1990s GMO rhetoric, not realising what has happened around the word since that time,” Dr Barker says. “All we have been asking for is a chance to have New Zealanders talk about the issue and to be part of the decision-making of where this country goes with modern GMO.

“That decision should not be the responsibility of any one group, whether they be anti-GMO lobbyists or indeed bio scientists. This country needs people to make an educated and informed majority choice.”

ends

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