There is concern that The Ministry of Health has been hoodwinked into promoting Genetic Engineering of tobacco as a
credible option towards a Smoke Free Aotearoa.
Submissions on the Smoke Free 2025 consultation document have closed, and it is positive to see a 40% drop in people
smoking cigarettes in the last 5 years.
However, in a press release BioTech NZ say that the Ministry of Health is supporting Genetic Engineering of tobacco
plants as a vital solution to reaching the 2025 goal. 
However, the Genetic Engineering (GE) of tobacco for low nicotine was not mentioned in the consultation document  and
there is concern that backroom discussions are now being publicised by BioTech NZ as having Ministry of Health
commitment. The US Corporation 22 Century is ready to license the supply of GE tobacco NZ needs. 
"It is disingenuous of the Ministry of Health and the Minister to discuss privately with the Biotech industry and not
consult with the public on this," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.
“Private discussions with interested US parties and BioTech NZ is undemocratic and undermines public confidence when it
results in such nonsensical ideas that do not achieve the goal of smoke free by 2025.”
BioTech NZ claim Genetic Engineering of tobacco is vital because "strong evidence indicates that removing the nicotine
from tobacco makes it unattractive to many smokers".
"The proposal is clearly misguided and seems more about promoting Genetic Engineering than smoking prevention," said Jon
Carapiet. spokesman for GE-Free NZ.
"It is not logical to be promoting smoking at all."
Genetic Engineering of tobacco to produce nicotine-free cigarettes has not been tested for safety and pose the same
dangers as normal cigarettes. It is not just the nicotine but the flavours, sugars and additives to make the cigarette
burn that release toxic particulates into the lungs.
A four-year study by Cummings and Colleagues (2006) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that “smokers… of light
or ultra light cigarettes receives the same amount of tar and nicotine as a smoker of regular cigarettes.” 
Smoking is dangerous regardless of what it is that is being inhaled. Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer
and lung disease as the heat and toxins from the smoke destroys the delicate lung tissue. 
"It is short sighted of the Ministry to promote smoking in any form especially smoking cigarettes sourced from the
unknown toxic effects of Genetically Engineered tobacco,” said Claire Bleakley.