INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour's GE policy has inconsistencies, Greens say

Published: Thu 14 Oct 1999 03:39 PM
Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today praised Labour for following her suggestion, first mooted last year, to set up a Royal commission of inquiry into genetic engineering.
She has also welcomed Labour's pledge to label all genetically engineered food, something the Greens have been campaigning for right through the present parliamentary term.
However, Ms Fitzsimons said, other parts of Labour's GE policy, issued today, contained serious inconsistencies.
"While Labour mentions a moratorium on commercial plantings, this is almost meaningless," she said. "There are no applications for such plantings. It is significant that Labour is not calling for a moratorium on field trials, some of which have huge environmental implications, and a few of which are in effect commercial undertakings."
Labour also says in its policy that it would give the Environmental Risk Management Authority "powers to intervene at any later stage to impose further conditions on a release if necessary" and also Labour would require "field trial applicants to have in place a contingency plan for dealing with any accidental release or escape".
According to Ms Fitzsimons: "I really wonder whether this is serious policy. Labour does not seem to understand here the herculian task of trying to retrieve genetically engineered pollen and seed once it has escaped from a field trial or commercial release and inter-bred with non-GE crops and weeds.
"The party is naïve also in relying on the likes of multinational genetic engineers like Monsanto to monitor themselves on behalf of New Zealanders. Labour's policy indicates it has no intention of grasping the positive benefits of a GE-free NZ.
"The Green Party is the only one which has pledged to take organic farming seriously, and which has promised to protect our organic agriculture industry by making the country free of risky GE crops. I would be pleased to work with Labour after the election on the improvements needed to make its GE policy a meaningful one."

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