Opposition leader Bill English has called for a special committee of MPs to oversee the Government’s legislation on genetic modification.

English maintains that the issue needs close attention, and was cited in The Dominion newspaper as saying: “We need … to make sure that the new rules will permit sensible progress. Helen Clark [New Zealand Prime Minister] will be under pressure from factions of her Government to bury GM research in a mire of bureaucratic rules.”

Furthermore, he said that the government should take his suggestion seriously “in light of the fact that it may be looking for National’s support to pass the legislation”.

The government’s newly proposed laws will allow GM field trials but ban the commercial release of GM products in all but a few limited circumstances.