More MS news articles for July 2001

Mixed reactions to GM findings,1227,51240,00.html

Those in the science community and industry are welcoming the findings of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, but critics are already talking about fighting on.

The recommendations to proceed with field trials and their potentially commercial release is good news for people like Graeme Sinclair.

The television personality suffers from multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease attacking the central nervous system and muscles.

He says genetic research holds the key.

"For me it's hope... and for multiple sclerosis sufferers all over the country and the world it's hope. It may mean we get out of our wheelchairs, it may mean that our families get human beings back again that are fully functional," Sinclair says.

That feeling is shared by those at the cutting edge of science.

"Genetic modification is a basic tool of biological science these days and we need to use it to stay abreast with the rest of the world," says NZ Life Sciences chairman Dr William Rolleston.

Scientist says New Zealand needs biotechnology to remain competitive.

"(The commissioners) recognise GM does have an exciting future in New Zealand," says Associate Professor Clive Ronson of Otago University.

Meat exports are worth $5 billion annually.

Meat companies have budgeted $40 million over the next three years for research.

"Other countries particularly our competitors are well into GM research... we need to be able to keep pace with them," says Bryan Lynch of the meat industry association.

But it has to be measured against the risks.

"There is always going to be some risk implicit in new technology but there is no reason to think there is anymore risks in GM than we already know of," Ronson says.

But those wanting a GM-free New Zealand are unhappy.

"Worldwide there's a huge move against it... people are moving away from it in droves, they really want GE free foods, they want organic foods, they don't want these crops, they don't want this technology," says Jon Muller of the group GE Free New Zealand.

"The question has to be asked, why are we going in this direction?"

Some 98% of the submissions were against genetic engineering. GE Free New Zealand says there is enough support to fight for a referendum.
Published on Jul 30, 2001