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GM: Focus shifts to responsible management

Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) supports the end of a two-year moratorium on applications for the commercial release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), said the federation's GM spokesman Hugh Ritchie.

Mr Ritchie is chairman of the Grains Council, an industry group of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (FFNZ). The moratorium, which expires at midnight Wednesday, will allow the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), a Crown entity, to consider applications for the commercial release of GMOs.

"The federation has confidence in the ERMA decision-making process because it is separate to perception, hype and the political process," Mr Ritchie said.

Genetic-modification technology is another tool available to farmers but that does not mean that farmers will grow what consumers do not want, he said. "New Zealand farmers must be market focused. It is vital they have all the tools -- including genetic modification -- available to help them compete in a global market that is distorted by subsidies and trade barriers.

"At present there are no GM products designed to suit New Zealand conditions so it is unlikely that lifting the moratorium will open a flood-gate of applications seeking to release GM products.

"October 29 is an important milestone but it does not mean open slather on the commercial release of GMOs," Mr Ritchie said.

GM technology offers significant opportunities in areas such as pharmaceuticals and other medicines, and will help deliver environmentally-friendly production gains, which farmers need to stay competitive under the obligations of the Kyoto Protocol.

“Federated Farmers is confident that New Zealand farmers will decide on the best commercial opportunity available, within the parameters of ERMA's process to ensure that risk is managed. This way any GM options taken up will be in the best interests of New Zealand.”

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