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Greens dissent on emergency gene provisions

"Releasing GMOs without stringent trials is courting disaster," said Senator Rachel Siewert today, on the release of the Greens dissenting report into the emergency provisions of the Gene Technology Act.

"We do not want to create a situation where the response to an imminent threat could end up producing a far more deadly or troublesome situation than the initial problem."

The Australian Greens are opposed to the emergency dealing provisions of the Gene Technology Amendment Bill, and assert that the Government changes are going far beyond the mandate of the Act and the role of the Gene Technology Regulator.

"The proposed changes pose unacceptable risks. The Bill gives powers to Minister to make emergency determinations without defining the level of threat of triggers for such determinations," said Senator Siewert.

"We do not want to create another Cane Toad, and we should not allow vaccines that contain genetically engineered viruses to be released into the Australian population without a full assessment process."

"The Government is seeking to use the legitimate need to develop emergency responses to serious disease threats such as bird flu as an excuse to fast-track the approval and release of genetically engineered organisms," she said.

"What constitutes an 'imminent threat' is not identified in Bill, and it was suggested to the Senate Inquiry by the Department of Health and Ageing that an economic threat might be sufficient cause to fast-track GE approval. This is completely unacceptable."

"We believe that such emergency provisions should only apply in medical emergencies, that the response should be managed by the appropriate experts, and that a full assessment needs to take place before genetically engineered organisms are released into our bodies or the environment," concluded Senator Siewert.

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