Inform, educate or influence? New Zealand's experience of the debate on genetic modification
New Zealand must be one of the world's best-informed countries on the issues arising from genetic modification of crops and medicines. After 14 months of hearings and deliberations, a Royal Commission on Genetic Modification recommended in its report that the options should be kept open, recognizing the many potential advantages on offer, but emphasizing the need to proceed carefully, minimizing and managing risks. It called for the continued development of conventional farming, organic agriculture and integrated pest management systems in a manner that would contribute to New Zealand's overall benefit. All its members were convinced that social and indigenous values had to be incorporated to reduce mistrust of scientists and encourage participation of a wider range of people in decisions on the technology. Following the report's release, the government announced that a voluntary moratorium on field tests and release of genetically modified organisms, imposed in June 2000, would be lifted in October 2003, and promised legislation to allow the technology to proceed with care.
The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs