Abandoning Bio-Ethics Will Damage New Zealand

New Zealand's world-wide reputation will be undermined if the government proceeds with its plan to terminate the Bio-Ethics Council and seeks to loosen legislated safeguards around the use of biotechnology.

"It is alarming to see the shutting down of public participation and the right for people to express their views on moral and ethical issues around highly contentious matters that affect their lives and those of future generations," says Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

Though the Bio-Ethics Council was not perfect and it lacked a decision-making role, the government's move is a blow to the democratic process and removes any ethical debate around potentially devastating uses of gene technology. The decision also flies in the face of the central recommendations of the $6-million Royal Commission on Genetic Modification (RCGM) that called for a careful ethical case-by-case approach to biotechnology.