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Sep 15, 2016

Public will overcome GMO fears when they realise benefits - US expert

Transparency is the best way to overcome people's opposition to genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), says Jack Bobo, a keynote speaker at this week's NZ Bio conference in Auckland. Mr Bobo is the chief communications officer for US-based synthetic biology company Intrexon, whose subsidiaries are promoting several controversial GM products –from mosquitoes to fight dengue fever to locally-farmed salmon and non-browning apples. In New Zealand, GMOs have been in the headlines after Environment Minister Nick Smith said he was considering what action to take over a High Court ruling last month allowing regional councils to control the release of GMOs under the Resource Management Act. Dr Smith says the government will review whether to change the law to give that responsibility to the Environmental Protection Authority. Mr Bobo, a former US State Department biotech adviser, says New Zealanders use GMOs daily in the food they eat – in beer, wine and cheese – without knowing it because labelling policies don't require it to be disclosed. "If labelling policy hides that from consumers, people don't know it's important to them," he says. "Transparency is ultimately what is going to help us solve the problem because you can't have trust without transparency."  Read the article.

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