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Trains, genes and progress

Posted in Reflections On Science on July 7th, 2011.

The Rotarua Daily Post has introduced a monthy column from the CEO of Scion, Dr Warren Parker.

In his inaugural column, Dr Parker examines the issue of genetic modification in an careful light, acknowledging the  benefits but also highlighting the need to “proceed with caution”.

An excerpt (read in full here):

FORESTRY RESEARCH INSIGHT by Warren Parker, chief executive of Scion crown forestry research institute

Balance GM risks with great chances

Where would we be without a multitude of discoveries that improve our daily lives? After extensive hearings and deliberation, the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification concluded in 2001 New Zealand should adopt a precautionary approach, preserving opportunities for future use of genetic modification.

Supported by the Labour-led Government, this has allowed New Zealand research to proceed, under tightly-controlled conditions, into use of genetic modification techniques in pastoral and vegetable plants, dairy cattle and, at Scion, radiata pine.

In June, Northland anti-genetic engineering protesters reportedly danced in the streets at the thought Whangarei District Council might ban local use of genetic engineering.

New York Governor Martin Van Buren wrote to President Andrew Jackson in 1829 about the threat railroads posed to the canal system. He pleaded for the preservation of the latter noting “railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15m/h [24km/h] by engines, in addition to endangering life and limb, snort their way through countryside belching out smoke, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children”.

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