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LSN And Field Trials – Both Full Of Holes

Life Sciences Network And Field Trials – Both Full Of Holes

1 November, Auckland. GM lobby group Life Sciences Network (LSN) never lets the truth get in the way of a good story said Greenpeace today in response to LSN allegations of mistruth.

“Containment of GE outside the laboratory is a key issue. As local and overseas examples show, contamination is a very real threat. In Tasmania there have been 21 breaches of field trials (1) since 1998,” said Greenpeace GE campaigner, Annette Cotter.

The Royal Commission stated ‘We heard from Dr Dan Cohen of HortResearch that he was carrying out a field trial of transgenic tamarillos at HortResearch’s Northland Research Station. We heard considerable public doubt about the adequacy of the containment of this trial. The Commission considers that this public concern was justified.’(RCI Ch 6 para91)

Documented in the transcripts of the Commission’s hearings are field trial containment concerns for GE potatoes and peas in Lincoln. Cross examination from Crop and Food acknowledged that netting for GE peas kept out the birds but was not designed to omit pollinating insects (RCI transcript p 246), and that transgenic potatoes were fed to delegates at a conference, prior to any food safety evaluation of the GE potatoes (RCI transcript p 245).

Also, papers obtained from ERMA under the OIA (Official Information Act) by Jeanette Fitzsimons from the Green Party recognise concerns associated with the containment of transgenic salmon eggs, ‘some eggs could therefore pass through the screens, be fertilized and leave the containment facility.’

“This is not a justification for saying it’s all too late. In fact, now is the time to ensure this will not happen in the future. The only way to be sure is to restrict GE to the laboratory,” said Ms Cotter.

“We could be very easily GE free, and we’re close now. However we’ll lose this opportunity if field trials commence. This is a commonsense position, far from a fundamentalist one, and it is shared with the majority of a very informed public.”

Contrary to Life Sciences Network’s false claims, Greenpeace did not apologise or withdraw testimony from the Royal Commission. The evidence from Dr Doreen Stabinsky, Dr Terje Traavik, Dr Peter Wills, Dr Jonathan King, Anuradha Mittal and Bill Christison on behalf of Greenpeace to the Royal Commission was world class, and absolutely defendable under cross- examination.

“LSN has distorted facts and is attempting to polarise broad opposition to genetic engineering. Obviously working with multinationals like Monsanto, who are well known for their attempts to manipulate the media, has taught LSN a few dirty tricks,” concluded Ms Cotter.

1. Joint Select Committee Report on Gene Technology, Parliament of Tasmania, June 2001


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