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9-Misc: Civil disobedience campaign against GE field trials launched in New Zealand

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Green gloves direct action pledge
SOURCE: Green Gloves, New Zealand, Press release
DATE:   October 31, 2001

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Three thousand New Zealanders have pledged to help remove genetic 
engineering field trials and planning for action is underway, following 
yesterdays pro GE decision by the government, which anti-GE campaigners say 
was a sad capitulation to genetic engineering interests.

The campaign is being launched today, in an Auckland park, together with a 
demonstration of how environmentally-responsible trial destruction can be 
done. The launch is a response to the Government's GE announcement 
yesterday, "The Government has betrayed the majority of New Zealanders who 
do not want GE field trials and preparation for commercial GE releases", 
spokesperson Logan Petley said. "They sold out to the GE lobby. That leaves 
the public no option but civil disobedience to protect our country from GE 
accidents and contamination."

The non-violent direct action initiative, in which members of the public 
have been invited to sign a civil disobedience pledge (attached) has been 
dubbed "Green Gloves". "This is because people who pledge to join the 
actions were given a pair of green gloves to keep ready for when they are 
needed." The group has been organised by long-time environmental 
campaigners and has no links to any political parties.

Field trial removal - in this case pine trees - will be demonstrated at the 
launch by a group of Aucklanders including actor Danielle Cormack who have 
signed the civil disobedience pledge. The launch and field trial 
demonstration will occur at the Basque Park Gardens, Newton, Auckland at 
12:30 pm today, Wednesday 31st October.

Support for the pledge has spread like wildfire throughout the country 
since being launched by anti-GE campaigners on 31 July, a few days after 
the royal commission report was published, resulting in the 3000 volunteers 
in just twelve weeks.

"This is an astonishing number of New Zealanders prepared to make a stand. 
It shows how wrong Helen Clark is when she denies there is strong public 
feeling about genetic engineering. Each of those 3000 people represents 
many other people who also care deeply about the issue." "Some New 
Zealanders might think these plans are irresponsible, however we believe we 
are acting to defend our country. If the first boat load of possums were 
arriving in New Zealand tomorrow, and we could still stop them, we would do 
the same. Keeping the New Zealand environment GE free, before something 
goes horribly wrong, is a socially and environmentally responsible act."

"This civil disobedience will not involve people breaking into GE labs. Our 
concern is about GE organisms being allowed into the environment, where it 
is irreversible. But anything coming out of labs into the environment as 
field trials will be targeted."

Green Glove co-ordinators say that these kinds of actions may well prove to 
be legal, based on precedents from Britain where environmental campaigners 
have been cleared of charges for pulling out crops because their actions 
were judged to be strongly in the public interest.

"The lists of Green Gloves volunteers include people in all regions of NZ. 
There are mothers and fathers, doctors, business people and students. They 
have indicated that if they must, they are prepared to actively seek out 
and remove GE field trials, due to the risks they pose."

"Green Gloves is announcing its plans openly so that GE companies and 
research institutions are in no doubt about our intentions. These will not 
be secretive activities, but rather open, colourful and unstoppable."

Logan Petley +64-25-828028 or
Fergus Wheeler +64-4-9056583.


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| European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering |
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