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Photos needed of GE research downsides

8 Sept 2008

Photos needed of GE research downsides

The Green Party is calling on AgResearch to publicly release photographs of deformed calves so the public can see downsides of genetic engineering as well as hearing and reading the Crown Research Institute's spin.

"In the past few days AgResearch General Manager of Applied Biotechnologies Dr Jimmy Suttie has called my concerns about deformities and other animal welfare aspects of GE 'ludicrous', yet surely he can't deny examples I have found at the weekend," Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Recent GE deformities created by AgResearch have included a female calf born alive on December 23, 2006 with a club foot and a fused neck, a male calf born alive the next day on December 24, 2006 with its rear fetlocks bent back, a male calf born alive on August 17, 2007 with the lack of a normal diaphragm and a male calf born dead on September 19, 2007 with un-inflated lungs. The information has come from the "Transgenic Animals" section of the Ruakura Animal Containment Facility's annual report to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA)
Says Ms Fitzimons, "Every farmer will know that deformities do occur naturally. But out of 36 live births in about one year, this is a very high proportion.

"When Dr Suttie said euphemistically on GE that 'initial animal development is inefficient', what he means is high rates of deaths and deformities. It's difficult to get other than sanitised descriptions of these from AgResearch or ERMA, even in Official Information Act requests, and so far photographs have not been forthcoming.

"I call on Dr Suttie to confirm or deny his experiments have also created calves which have huge abdomens, or with kidneys missing or hearts fused to other organs.

"Dr Suttie and his colleagues want to genetically engineer llamas, alpacas, sheep, cows, pigs, goats, buffalo, deer, horses and other animals. Before they are allowed to, detailed information including photographs needs to be released by the institute showing many GE experiments have unfortunate results. Although of course not every instance of manipulation goes wrong, foals and young llamas are likely to suffer similar deformities to those AgResearch has created in calves.

"AgResearch's application in four parts lists numerous animals to be host organisms for engineering. If it is approved it will allow the institute to develop unlimited numbers of GE animals without telling us which specific genes and associated genetic material they intend to use and without the public knowing all the pros and cons animal-welfare-wise beforehand."

Public submissions on the application are being made via the website www.ermanz.govt.nz and close on October 31.

For more information including copies of relevant "Transgenic Animals" page:

ENDS


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