“ACT is driving the GE debate from opposition – just imagine what we can achieve in Government”, says ACT candidate and scientist Dr Parmjeet Parmar.

“With ACT consistently polling above 10 per cent, and leading the policy conversation on our GE laws, both National and Labour have done u-turns on the issue.

“Christopher Luxon went as far as to use the same software analogy on Q+A that I used in my speech at ACT’s annual conference one week earlier.

“But only a strong ACT in Government will ensure real change happens.

“National in Government was just as cautious as Labour is now. It’s required ACT to lead the policy conversation. Former Environment Minister Nick Smith said in 2015 and 2016:

‘New Zealand is an exporter of billions of dollars of food products and we receive a premium for our natural brand and high quality standards. These are minimalist changes because we do not want New Zealand getting ahead of market perceptions of these new biotechnologies.’

‘There is some frustration by those in the science community that similarly low-risk biotechnologies developed since 1998 have not been included in the new ‘not GM’ regulations. The rationale for our cautious approach is that New Zealand is an exporter of billions of dollars of food products and we need to be mindful of market perceptions as well as the science. We will continue to monitor global rules around the regulation of GMOs and adapt our system over time in line with international developments.’

“ACT has long said that if we want to get serious about reducing our emissions and allowing scientific innovation in New Zealand, rather than forcing our scientists to do their work in the States, we must liberalise our archaic GE laws.

“Australia modernised its laws in October 2019. We risk being left behind if we don’t do the same.

“A law change is desperately needed to ensure we can make scientific advancements while having a clearly regulated framework that mitigates risk. Crucially, the regulation needs to be proportionate to risk.

“New Zealand is now behind. How long can we keep avoiding the latest advancements?

“An ACT-National Government can be a Government of real change if National continues to adopt good ideas. Let’s liberalise New Zealand’s archaic laws on genetic engineering and allow our scientists to be leaders, not laggards.”


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