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Minister Lends Ear to GE-Cows Protest

26 June 2002

Protesters concerned that new experiments to copy human genes into cows are unethical today urged the environment Minister Marion Hobbs to intervene.

After giving a key-note speech at the conference of the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) in Auckland, the Minister agreed to meet for discussions with a group of Maori women to hear their concerns. The Minister, was also presented with a letter raising ethical and other concerns about the human-cow experiments.

Outside the conference-hall hundreds of passing motorists honked support as about fifteen people staged a public vigil for GE applications to remain ethical and in containment.

The letter presented to the Minister also asked her to urgently intervene to stop Forest Research planting out Genetically Modified Trees in a 20-year field-trial.

ERMA have admitted the trial could contaminate soil through Horizontal Gene Transfer, but the project was approved before new rules aimed at reducing contamination were established. There is now a proposal to use the project to study how this soil contamination occurs.

" The trees could be planted within weeks, but they must not knowingly allow contamination when they are not sure of the impact or how they will ever clean it up " said Jon Carapiet, a spokeperson for Ge-Free NZ ( in food and environment)who attended the ERMA conference and left to support the vigil.

Mr Carapiet said the ERMA staff had been told the vigil was taking place and the Minister had seen the protesters as she arrived. " She was very graceous in accepting the protest letter," said Mr Carapiet. "I hope she will take action."


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