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GE Cows and GE Trees Protest

26 06 02

GE Free New Zealand In Food And Environment Inc. PO Box 693, Nelson gefree@ts.co.nz www.gefree.org.nz

Cows with human genes and GE trees target of protest at ERMA conference.

Supporters of a GE-Free New Zealand (in food and environment) will be joining a public vigil outside the ERMA (Environmental Risk Management Authority) conference being held in Auckland today ( Wednesday 26 June )

The public vigil is taking place from 4pm-6pm at the Waipuna Lodge Conference Centre, Mt Wellington.

The vigil has been timed to coincide with a speech at the conference by Minister Marion Hobbs, and aims to voice public concern at ongoing GE experiments.

One experiment is for GE trees which has been given the go- ahead but exempted from rules designed to stop GE contamination. Another experiment- for cloning and the creation of GE cows with a copy of human and other genes, has been proposed by AgResearch.

" Copying human genes into cows raises serious ethical issues. The Royal Commission said NOT to use food animals for these kind of experiments yet alternative research does not seem to have been pursued. Instead, they are back to genetically engineering our main food- animals again", said Jon Carapiet , a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ ( in food and Environment).

" We are calling on Sir Paul Reeves - chairman of the new Bio Ethics Council- to step in and voice the broader societal, spiritual and ethical concerns that ERMA are not qualified to address."

ERMA was due to give a decision on this project in July but they have now delayed the process till after the election.

' The public have the right to know this experiment is being planned, and that other trials are going ahead right now.. .not just next year, but right now", said Mr Carapiet.

The 20-year trial for Genetically Engineered pine trees has already been approved and it is believed the Forest Research Institute are about to plant GE trees into the open environment.

" We are calling on Marion Hobbs to intervene and stop the planting-out of GE pine-trees planned for the next few weeks," said Mr Carapiet.

" ERMA have admitted soil contamination is likely to occur from Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) into soil microbes and fungi. But FRI are believed to be spreading out the gene-modified trees interspersing them with non GE- trees, increasing the likelihood that contamination will occur more widely. New information on the spread of genetic contamination is not being considered: they are just pushing on regardless."

Mr Carapiet will be attending the conference during the day as a representative of GE-Free NZ ( in food and environment) but will leave the event to support the public vigil.


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