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Chicken deaths prompt call for new GE rules

1 July, 2003

Chicken deaths prompt call for new GE rules

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling for new regulations for GE animal feed, following revelations that twice as many GE-fed chickens died in a feeding trial, compared with those on conventional diets.

The deaths have also prompted Ms Kedgley to call for new labelling rules in New Zealand that would identify food from animals that have been fed GE feed.

The United Kingdom's Daily Mail newspaper has reported that the 42-day chicken trial was carried out at the University of Guelph in Ontario, and was funded by biotechnology company Aventis/Bayer.

Ms Kedgley said she hoped that comprehensive trials would be conducted to follow up this alarming result, to see whether genetically engineering a crop to make it resistant to a weed-killer had created unexpected toxins, as the research indicated. "If the effects on the chickens were unexpected, then it is clear that there could be a risk of unexpected effects on humans too.

"In the meantime, we need new regulations controlling GE stockfeed, and tighter labelling laws to identify meat, eggs and dairy products from animals that have been fed GE stockfeed," she said.

"It is a bizarre anomaly that New Zealand has no rules at all about feeding animals GE stock food.

"GE stock food should be regulated in the same way as GE food destined for human use and other GE organisms. After all, the risks to the environment and health are similar no matter whether we are talking GE cows, GE grains or GE animal food.

"At the moment we are ignoring those risks relating to GE stock food, which shoots holes in the Government's claim that we have one of the strongest GE regulatory regimes in the world.

"It is also essential that New Zealand consumers are informed which products come from animals that have been fed GE feed so that they can make an informed purchasing decision.

Ms Kedgley said she would shortly introduce a private member's bill, which would require labelling for animals fed GE feed, and comprehensive labelling of any food that had been produced using gene technology.


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