Expert Saddened by Science Debate Sunday, Mar 9, 2003
A visiting US biotechnology expert, who was an expert witness before the Royal Commission on GM, must have been saddened by the low standard of the debate about GM in New Zealand, the Chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston said today.
“After the ground-breaking work done by the Royal Commission, New Zealand opponents of gene technology had a real opportunity to lift the global debate to a new level. They should have done the work to find real evidence which will persuade decision makers and the public that they are right.
“Instead, this week we have had two examples where they have deliberately misquoted and misrepresented what Professor Martina Newell-McGloughlin said in New Zealand so they could shore up their own preconceived prejudices.
“They have deliberately taken parts of her presentation at the US Embassy on Tuesday out of context, and then publicly tried to spin what she said to support their position.
“To put the record straight: Some of the most promising developments which are on the horizon from gene technology are techniques to enhance the nutritive value of many food items. In this way we can increase our intake of anti-oxidants and other essential elements through the food we eat in our daily diets. We will be able to address issues like child obesity, which is a major problem in western economies, by improving the quality characteristics of our food beyond what is possible in nature.
“I would have thought the safe food campaigners in New Zealand would have welcomed the developments in this area with open arms and would be campaigning to get more science done rather than the knee jerk reactions we have seen this week. In this way New Zealand too can contribute to the development and production of safer and more nutritious foods," concluded Dr Rolleston.