The Ministry of Environment's research into promoting greater use of novel organisms is off-stategy for the New Zealand Brand and shows an intention to dilute bio-security standards.
The planned research is not aimed at identifying ethical and contained applications of biotechnology, but at promoting more new and modified organisms, including Genetically Engineered organisms, in the open environment.
"They are working against a brand strategy for ethical applications of new organisms in containment. They have forgotten gorse, and possums, and the refusal by the Insurance industry to cover GM organisms," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
The abolition of the Bio-Ethics Council means there is also no moral compass guiding The Government which risks abandoning the New Zealand Brand for free trade. The Ministry's research questions betray an agenda to relax rules and could be aiming to weaken our gold-standards for purity and zero-contamination for GM seed.
The MfE research is described as "aiming to better understand the real additional net benefit New Zealand might gain from any future changes in the regulatory regime," and "whether the level of compliance cost faced by applicants is appropriate."
The proposed research may be be one of a series of studies apparently aimed at justifying the environmental release of GE organisms in New Zealand.
In April 2011 The University of Otago Marketing Department released a report claiming to show no harm to the New Zealand brand from growing GE grass, or from introducing nuclear power stations or moving to even more intensive animal-farming.
The MfE research aimed at release of new organisms is misguided. Research funds should be being spent on understanding the needs of clean-green businesses and in keeping our environment and food exports low-pesticide, GE-free, and organic.That is what our markets and the New Zealand public expect.