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Green Party says big NO on HSNO

Conditional release of GE into the environment must not be allowed, the Green Party said today in its submission on the Government's HSNO Act review.

The submission says conditional release should not proceed, as there are no ethical and effective means of preventing contamination of non-GE organisms, including animals and crops.

Submissions on the Environment Ministry's discussion document, 'Improving the operation of the HSNO Act for New Organisms' closed today. The Green Party submission also says the legal question of who would bear liability if any harm came about from conditional release was too poorly defined, and that the risk should not be borne by innocent neighbours and consumers.

In its submission, the Green Party also calls for:

A ban on project-based approvals for the development of GE organisms for use outside a laboratory (such as the recent consent for AgResearch to develop cows with unspecified genes from any of five animals), unless every distinct type of GE organism to be produced is itemised;

An end to moves to relax identification of GE organisms in applications;

The inclusion of public interest representatives on the in-house committees that consider low-risk GE applications (IBSCs), as genetic engineering is an issue of intense ethical concern in society.

The Green Party yesterday also filed a submission on an Agriculture Ministry paper: 'How Conditional Release May Assist in Achieving Coexistence'. The Green Party says in its submission that co-existence is not possible, as GE contamination cannot be prevented in the environment.

The submission says there have been numerous cases of gene transfer from GE crops to non-GE crops and wild plants, mediated by both wind and insects. Non-GE seed lots have also been contaminated with GE in both New Zealand and Europe, despite importers receiving assurances the lots were clean.

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today the latest evidence for this was the worst kind of cross-contamination. Corn genetically engineered in the United States to produce pharmaceuticals had contaminated a crop of soyabeans grown afterwards on the same site, resulting in the destruction of millions of dollars worth of soyabeans.

"This was discovered before the beans went to market," Ms Fitzsimons said. "We can't rely on that always being the case."

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