10,000 Rally Against Frankenfoods in New Zealand

10,000 Rally Against Frankenfoods
in New Zealand

1 September <www.organicts.com>

Aucklanders braved torrential rain to dress up as butterflies, organic peas,
insects and the grim reaper in a colourful rally to say no to genetic
engineering in the biggest public rally seen in New Zealand for 20 years.
The "Keep New Zealand GE Free" rally in Auckland, attended by at least
10,000 people, stretched from QE2 to Aotea Square, was awash with colourful
GE Free banners, costumes and placards.

The government is currently considering its response to the Royal Commission
on Genetic Modification, which called for the country to "proceed with
caution", including field trials of modified materials.

Annette Cotter, of Greenpeace, was quoted as saying, "We have a window of
opportunity to put pressure on the government to take into account public
opposition to GE field trials. The overwhelming success of this rally has
sent a very clear message to the Government. People of this country want a
GE free environment and food chain. "Keep GE in the lab."

The march started in QE 2 square and ended in Aotea square where the crowd
listened to speeches by members of the Auckland GE Free Coalition. The crowd
were urged to Oget- active¹, write to MPs, and declare their homes and
communities GE free.

One organiser is quoted as admitting that the anti-GM movement is in
disarray as it considers how it handles the potent political force it has
unleashed. Organiser Steve Abel agreed the movement needed more
co-ordination. "We had a big expression of public opposition but there's
lots more stuff that has to be done," he said. "We were hoping to announce
a date for a national rally but we couldn't get agreement at a national
level. This whole thing has blossomed since the royal commission report and
we haven't had the time.

But the show wasn't all one way - pro-GE advocates, including scientists,
joined the front of the march to give the other side of the debate. One
observer said the group of about 17 was later jostled and given a police
escort away from the march.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, said she hadn't had time to pay the protest much
attention. "The government is taking three months to respond to the royal
commission report. We're going through each of the recommendations. We're
going to consider it thoroughly," she said. Clark said if she were a
private citizen she would not have the march, but would have waited to see
what the government's decision was.

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