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Urgent! GE Royal Commission

3 August 2000

Forwarded from the Green Party - if you are interested in making an oral submission to the Royal Commission on GE, then you need to read this now as the deadline is 3pm, TOMORROW (Friday, 4 August). The reason for such short notice is that it only became apparent late yesterday that these conditions would apply - how's that for public consultation !

3 August 2000

Urgent ! GE Commission Update !

Please forward to other networks (apologies for cross-posting)

How you participate in the Royal Commission on GE will be decided in the next day. If you want to know what's going on and get involved, please read this alert.

You have until tomorrow afternoon to apply to the commission for 'Interested Person Status'. If you want to make an oral submission to the commission, you have to do this. Otherwise you will be excluded from the 'formal' hearings of the commission.

It's vital that we get enough cautious voices participating on this level to balance the many and loud pro-GE voices - otherwise it will be completely biased towards GE.

You do not have to be a heavyweight to get this status, and it's easy to apply for it as an individual or a group. It guarantees you'll be heard by the commission, not side-lined into public meetings.

Interested Person Status also gives you (or a lawyer on your behalf) the chance to cross-examine evidence from the other side - Lifesciences (pro-GE lobby group) will make the most of this so we need to too.

This is how you do it:

  1. Fill in the application form (available as a Word attachment from PMA, or the Commission's website - see url near end of this message) and get it to the commission by email or fax by Friday 4th August at 3pm (the form has the email address and fax on it);

  2. Turn up at the court hearing at the Wellington District Court on Thursday 10 August from 9-30am (in hearing room 6 on the 5th floor), and show that you have a special interest in the commission.

  3. If you can't turn up to the District Court on 10th August, we are arranging for a lawyer to represent those groups/individuals (or to support people who will be there) for a koha of about $40 to $50 each (let us know if you can't afford this). Please contact us if you are keen on this.

  4. If we miss our chance here, the business side of the royal commission will be taken over by pro-GE interests. We can't let that happen.

More detailed information

What you need to prove to get this status: You need to prove that you have "an interest in the Inquiry apart from any interest in common with the public".

The commission have been evasive about what exactly this means, but have said "it's a factual thing" which seems to come down to being able to contribute something more than the person who just walks in off the street (in their words).

It should be relatively easy for those whose livelihoods may be threatened by GE to make a case (eg organics, beekeepers, exporters). But it's unsure exactly where this leaves consumer advocate groups and others such as religious groups and political parties. Showing a history of ethical or environmental concerns (eg "green" philosophy, religious and/or cultural links, global development research), any technical knowledge (eg pesticide or safe food testing), past activities (eg petitions, public information), related job (eg scientists, religious ministers), knowledge and experience in issues referred to in the terms of reference (eg Treaty of Waitangi, liability, intellectual property, international agreements) will all help.

The court hearing:

Please let us know if you are interested in having Tom Bennion (a sympathetic Wellington lawyer) represent you at the court hearing - for a koha of around $50 for each applicant.

We will send out a template for the information you will need to present at this hearing. That will include membership, incorporation, when formed, constitution, evidence of past and current relevant activities for groups.

Your special interest can be specific or wide (relate to all issues covered in the terms of reference). It makes sense to tie your interest in to as many of the areas covered in the terms of reference as you can (the terms of reference are available as a Word attachment from PMA, or the Commission's website - see url near end of this message).

What does it mean if you do not apply or are turned down for interested person status ?

You will still be able to send a written submission in. The commission can ask you to come and give it orally (the chances are pretty low they will do this), but unlike an "interested person" you do not have any automatic right to appear before them.

You will also be able to attend and contribute to the open public meetings which will be held around the country. We don't know yet how these will run.

Contact us if you need to: Call Sean Weaver or myself (collect) at the Green Party in Parliament if you want to talk about any of this.

Gina Dempster (04) 470 6723 or 021 1265 289; Sean Weaver (04) 470 6717

The form, terms of reference and other info are available on the commission's website:, or you can call them on (04) 495 9151, fax: (04) 495 9153 or email

An excellent collection of information on GE food can be found on the NLP (Wessex) Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Food website.

Index page on environment and health issues

Index page on submissions due

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