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Flaws In GM Bill Threaten Economic Future

MPs Warned : Flaws In GM Bill Threaten Economic Future

MP's on the select committee considering the HSNO Amendment Bill governing Genetic Engineering experiments will be told the Bill threatens the economic future of this country by giving controversial GE experiments a green light and allowing full GE commercial releases from 2003.

Submissions from GE-Free New Zealand (in Food and Environment) warn that New Zealand's clean green image is at risk of becoming permanently tarnished overseas by the introduction of a disgraceful new bill, which sweeps away clear restrictions on the testing of genetically engineered organisms in our environment. In October, the government justified its decision to proceed with caution and lift the moratorium. They promised stringent new restrictions on GE field trials, in light of the Royal Commission findings after scientists warned of the risks of horizontal gene transfer contaminating our soils. 'Close scrutiny of the new Bill reveals that the public are being seriously misled if they think this shockingly worded bill will prevent contamination to New Zealand soils,' said Susie Lees of GE Free New Zealand, 'This bill not only threatens to make the Act weaker, but gives free rein for every genetic experiment with purported potential medical benefits without any evidence of benefit being required.'

The select committee will this week be asked by many environmental groups to withdraw the bill. The timing of the hearing coincides with the first application to ERMA to develop cattle with human, mice, sheep, deer, goat and other unspecified genes which is open for public submission until March 7th. The application is for 10 years of experimentation in an "outside laboratory". All waste will be allowed into the soil and even sprayed onto fields. Cows carrying the GE foetuses will be sold into the food chain after giving birth. The fields are only contained by a fence, thus giving unrestricted access for gene contamination via insects and micro-organisms. No report is yet available on the research findings from current AgResearch trials with human genes in cattle which resulted in scores of GE foetuses being aborted.

'AgResearch, a government funded CRI, recently likened to a New Zealand version of Monsanto, intends to continue with controversial experiments which cause affront to Maori and many other New Zealanders, and raise huge animal welfare issues,' says Susie, ' we will be asking the public to express their concerns to ERMA on this blanket application, the first since the lifting of the moratorium.'


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