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First Release Of GE Organism An Outrage - Greens

The Green Party today said it was an absolute outrage that a living genetically engineered organism has been commercially released in New Zealand for two years, having completely bypassed the relevant legislation.

The Green Party understands that a cholera vaccine using a living genetically engineered bacteria has been on sale in New Zealand for around two years. The Greens understand that the engineered bacteria can survive passing through the body and survive for some time in the environment.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the revelation was the first known release of a genetically engineered organism in New Zealand and was another example of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) being completely ignored.

Ms Fitzsimons said it was imperative that the vaccine be withdrawn from sale immediately and that a full investigation be held. She suggested it could be appropriate to lay charges against the pharmaceutical company that imported the vaccine.

"The Green Party are absolutely appalled at this reckless disregard for the laws of this country," said Ms Fitzsimons, "and ignorance is no excuse whatsoever.

"When dealing with something as serious as a general release of a living genetically engineered organism companies should make absolutely certain that they know all the rules and then follow them to the letter," she said.

"What we are dealing with here is a living organism that has, for obvious reasons, never been seen before. We understand very little about it including the possibilities of the organism to mutate," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"It should have been subject to full scrutiny by ERMA under the HSNO Act with public submissions. Scientific evidence should have been sought on whether it could establish populations in New Zealand sewage systems and whether it could mutate and endanger people and the environment.

"This release has severely compromised the moratorium on release of genetically engineered organisms in this country," she said.

ends

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press sec): 021 110 1133


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