Corngate coverup (27/8/2003)

*Corngate coverup
*The daffy sayings of Environment Minister Marian Hobbs
*Kaipara considers banning GM organisms
Corngate coverup

National claims Prime Minister was involved in a cover-up over genetically-modified corn, but PM denies it

27 August 2003

The Opposition benches in Parliament have launched a bombshell at the Government, with the Prime Minister once again facing charges of involvement in a cover-up over genetically-modified corn.

National's Nick Smith has released a letter from a policy advisor to the head of Helen Clark's department.

It shows the advisor's concern that information had been held back during the election campaign.

Dr Smith claims that Miss Clark said during the campaign that all information over the corn issue had been made public - when clearly that was not the case.

He says the head of her department deliberately and knowingly kept key documents secret at a critical time during the campaign.

Helen Clark says that was a decision her departmental head made and she was not consulted.

© 2003 NZCity, IRN
Making a meal out of a morsel
27 August 2003 [shortened]

The daffy sayings of Environment Minister Marian Hobbs are always a parliamentary crowd-pleaser, but her latest gem - "Um, I don't know" - had the Opposition salivating more than usual.
It was what Mrs Hobbs said the other day when asked in an interview if she would be happy to eat genetically modified products.
Given new ructions over the Government's management of last year's GE corn foul-up, "Um, I don't know" seemed a refreshingly straightforward contribution from a Government figure. But the Opposition hoped the remark would give it an entree to annoying the Government about the role of the prime minister's brother-in-law - a maize scientist [working at a pro-GM institute] - in establishing embarrassingly early and full knowledge on her part of a food scare which she has vehemently distanced herself from.
Opposition MP Nick Smith asked Helen Clark whether she still had confidence in Mrs Hobbs after such a non-committal response on such a key issue. Answering in Miss Clark's absence, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen said she did. Mrs Hobbs assumed her customary sheepish twinkle.
But when Dr Smith next asked about the brother-in-law stuff, Speaker Jonathan Hunt ruled it and all other questions about background machinations out of order.
Kaipara considers banning GM organisms

Council at Kaipara considers legalities of banning GM organisms despite expiration of GM moratorium at end of October

27 August 2003

A Northland council is considering the legalities of banning genetically-modified organisms in its community.

The national GM moratorium expires at the end of October.

Kaipara District mayor Graeme Ramsey says the integrity of the region's environment is potentially at stake.

The council is meeting today to discuss its legal options, including introducing a bylaw on the issue.

Mr Ramsey says it is not clear who is liable if GE contaminants are inadvertently released into the environment.

© 2003 NZCity, IRN
Quote of the week?

"How many polls, protests and warning signs does it take...? The Government is not listening to science, to its own voters or to our overseas markets. Countries that embraced GM food in the mid-1990s were ignorant and careless. Countries that voluntarily give up their coveted GM-free status now are being deliberately and obstinately foolish." - Jeanette Fitzsimons: 'GM industry falling apart worldwide'

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