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Humans genes in cows would be stopped by Alliance

The approval of placing human genes in cows will be taken from ERMA and investigated thoroughly under the Alliance Moratorium on GE foods Bill the Alliance plans to introduce by Christmas.

Today ERMA approved two GE trials of cows with genes already in cows and deferred one trial of human genes in cows to next year. The Alliance will stop the two trials approved today and take away the responsibility for the final say on the human gene trial from ERMA until a full inquiry into Genetic Engineering is undertaken.

'The Alliance will stop the two field trials with cow genes announced today by ERMA as we cannot continue to genetically engineer our foods without a full public inquiry into the health risks, ' Alliance leader Jim Anderton said.

'The other trial involving the placement of human genes in cattle has wide ranging implications that a body such as ERMA cannot hope to completely cover. The Alliance wants to involve the public in a full and wide ranging discussion about the pros and cons of this type of genetic engineering in New Zealand.

'While we support the use of GE organisms in medicines, where they cannot be avoided, this trial may have more to do with increasing profits for the dairy industry than curing diseases.

'It would be better for the dairy industry to look at increasing profits though moving to organic production and exploiting our clean green image rather than risking a huge consumer backlash by mingling human and cow genes.

'This decision shows the need for our bill. This is a critical issue because it is on the borderline between a foods consumption and medical treatment.

'GE medicines are vastly different from GE foods. GE medicines have to go through a much more rigorous testing process than foods and are administered in known doses to specific patients. If there is a problem with GE medicines it can be traced. GE foods once released on the market cannot be easily traced and may combine with other foods in our bodies to produce unpredictab le effects.

'Our inquiry into Genetic Engineering will cover this grey area and allow public input into these decisions. We should not be going ahead with these kind of trials until that work is done,' Jim Anderton said.

Visit http://www.alliance.org.nz for more information about the Alliance

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