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Hobbs wrong again on GE bioreactors

Hobbs wrong again on GE bioreactors

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said this evening Environment Minister Marian Hobbs had got it wrong on GE again - for the second time in one day.

Ms Hobbs late this afternoon put out a press release saying Ms Fitzsimons had misrepresented the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification in Parliament today by saying they had recommended that animals not be used as bioreactors.

"I did not say that at all," Ms Fitzsimons said. "What I actually said was that the commission recommended that food animals not be used as bioreactors. This is a very important distinction.

"However, I am glad that Marian Hobbs has confirmed in her press release that I was correct when I said in the House today that a bioreactor is a plant or animal used to produce pharmaceuticals."

Ms Hobbs had inaccurately stated in the House today that the use of animals as bioreactors and the use of animals to produce pharmaceuticals were not the same thing.

As confirmed by Ms Hobbs in her press release this afternoon, a bioreactor is a genetically modified organism, plant or animal that can be used to produce medicines (ie. pharmaceuticals).

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification recommended in its report: "that, wherever possible, non-food animals, or animals less likely to find their way into the food chain, be used as bioreactors rather than animals that are a common source of food."

"I asked in the House today why the Government was not following that recommendation. Animals commonly used for food, namely three types of genetically modified cattle at AgResearch in Ruakura and up to 10,000 genetically modified sheep in the South Waikato, have been approved as bioreactors - despite the fact that New Zealanders commonly eat beef and mutton," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"The Government has no plans to require that only non-food animals be used in this way in order to protect both the perceptions of our markets and the food chain itself.

The wording of Ms Fitzsimons question in the House today was: "Why is the minister not acting on the recommendation of the Royal Commission that food animals such as cattle and sheep not be used to produce pharmaceuticals?"

"I'm still waiting for an answer to my question from the Minister," Ms Fitzsimons said this evening.

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