12/03/2009

Abandoning Bio-Ethics Will Damage New Zealand

 


New Zealand's world-wide reputation will be undermined if the government proceeds with its plan to terminate the Bio-Ethics Council and seeks to loosen legislated safeguards around the use of biotechnology.

"It is alarming to see the shutting down of public participation and the right for people to express their views on moral and ethical issues around highly contentious matters that affect their lives and those of future generations," says Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

Though the Bio-Ethics Council was not perfect and it lacked a decision-making role, the government's move is a blow to the democratic process and removes any ethical debate around potentially devastating uses of gene technology. The decision also flies in the face of the central recommendations of the $6-million Royal Commission on Genetic Modification (RCGM) that called for a careful ethical case-by-case approach to biotechnology.

The disestablishment of the Bio-Ethics Council comes at the same time as the government has quickly and surgically restricted public comment on how their local communities can be run through the recent changes to the Resource Management Act.

“New Zealand's reputation in the world for ethically-minded and fair governance will be undermined and ultimately this will seriously damage our exports and tourism, as well as community trust in how the government is caring for our environment," says Jon Carapiet spokesperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The removal of people's right to engage with government and be treated as equals in decisions affecting their region and communities, will create significant risks and downsides for the economy, health, environment, animal welfare and Brand New Zealand.

At a time when our valuable markets are trending towards greater demand for safe, sustainable and ethical business approaches, the removal of the people's voice risks pandering to the worst aspects of unsustainable and avaricious commercial interests that have already threatened our clean, green image so fundamental to our economic wellbeing.

ENDS:
Claire Bleakley 06-3089842 / 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 0210507681

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