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ERMA slammed over decision to delay cows hearing

ERMA slammed over decision to delay GE cows hearing until after election.

Public hearings on controversial experiments to genetically modify cows with a cocktail of genes and clone them has been delayed by ERMA, till after the general election.

Erma, (The Environmental Risk Management Agency) has decided to break with the normal requirement that applications for GE experiments are decided within 30 days of submissions closing.

ERMA have written to submitters advising them the hearings will probably take place in August, but the decision has been criticised by Jon Carapiet- a spokesperson for GE Free NZ in Food and Environment.

" ERMA should not be processing this application at all. It should have referred the matter to the new Bio Ethics Council. Surely that is the whole point of setting the Council up?", said Mr Carapiet.

"We need a debate about the ethical use of biotechnology in this country which the ERMA decision has sidelined. It seems politically convenient to delay the hearings."

Mr Carapiet says he has written to the Bio Ethics Council chairman Sir Paul Reeves urging him to intervene on the matter and review the ethical issue that ERMA is not mandated to investigate.

" We are repeating our call for Sir Paul to intervene, and are waiting for his reply. Our fear is that public concerns are again falling on deaf ears. If the Government refuse to require ERMA to refer the application to the Council it will be more evidence of their determination to push on with GE releases even while the public of New Zealand are going to the polls," said Mr Carapiet.

To date no applications have been refused by ERMA and decisions by the Authority are final.

ENDS

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