The audience at the annual Kim Hill Earth Hour debate decided there is a place for genetic engineering in New Zealand.
. . . Ninety minutes of pros, cons and broad views presented by panellists Tony Conner (AgResearch), Robert Cruickshank (Lincoln University) and Richard Newcomb (Plant and Food Research) on one team and Christine Dann (Organics Aotearoa), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and Jon Hickford (Lincoln University) on the other, with close interrogation of them all by Kim Hill, was followed by 30 minutes of questions from the audience. Chairwoman Sarah Walters, Deputy Mayor of Selwyn, then invited the audience to indicate by “noise” how they felt on the question.
Sarah ruled that the “ayes” were “slightly louder” signalling that genetic engineering should stay on New Zealand’s agenda “as a research opportunity” but with the provisos that it be well regulated, that consumers have a choice between GE and non-GE through strict labelling, and that the role of large overseas corporate organisations funding, and thereby influencing, research, be curbed. . .
Richard Newcomb added that the “GE debate has become completely intertwined with the anti-big business debate and with the notion of big business controlling food production and supply.” . . . .
He’s right – many of those opposed to GE are on the left of politics and also opposed to what they label big business.
Defending the environment, Christine Dann said she believed genetic engineering was “ecologically dangerous and too risky.”
“If everyone had their own little garden and grew their own vegetables the problem would be solved,” she said. . .
If she is right, and I don’t think she is, Would she care that a whole lot of other problems would be created including job losses?
New Zealand is taking a very cautious approach to GE which is as it should be.
But the vehement opposition to it is based on emotion not science.
That a majority of the audience gave cautious support, albeit with provisos, to GE gives some hope that science might win.