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Funds Are Being Poured Into Risky GM Cattle Trials

Claire Bleakley

MEDIA RELEASE 16.8.02

from: Claire Bleakley

BSc/Psych, R.C.Homoeopath, Medical Herbalist

Pigeon Bush, Featherston RD3

06 3089842

Taxpayers Are Unaware Their Funds Are Being Poured Into Risky GM Cattle Trials With Negative Benefits And Positive Risks For New Zealanders

That's the view of a submitter to the Environmental Risk Management Authority's hearing into an AgResearch application GMD 02028 to insert human, goat, sheep, deer and mice genes into cattle that ended in Hamilton yesterday. Claire Bleakley says the three days of intense debate into this vital issue for all New Zealanders has barely made into the media and taxpayers are not aware of the money being spent on these trials and the massive human and animal risks involved.

She says the risks are potentially as dangerous as the recent BSE outbreak in Britain.

In 2000, ERMA approved Hamilton's AgResearch facility undertaking three different transgenic experiments in NZ cattle. One involved putting an extra casein gene into the cow to produce fattier milk, the second was to remove the lactose gene to produce lactose-free milk and the third was concerned with the insertion of the human MPB (Myelin Basic Protein) gene into the cow to study its expression effects in the milk. The study is to end in three years.

The use of human genes in cows was challenged successfully in the High Court last year by a group of New Zealanders including Mrs Bleakley. She says the MAF/ERMA safety controls have not been followed and the new application in front of ERMA allows a range of experiments to proceed with no controls to monitor the unknown risks. The high risk nature of this application leaves little public accountability.

Claire Bleakley's submission was one of 850 against the cattle trials, and one of the sixteen presented orally in Hamilton this week. She made four key points:

1. The application in front of ERMA is illegal because it doesn't meet the requirements of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

2. The use of promoter genes to facilitate the process of genetic modification is being conducted without proper research into the risks involved. In this case, the SV-40 promoter can easily transfer into other micro-organisms, causing the horrifying possibility of immune failures (like AIDS) in humans and animals.

3. The scientists have not assessed the wide-ranging effects on the environment of the trials to date. There are no clinical assessments on the impact of the transgenic animals on their habitat including the effect of their effluent on soil micro-organisms, the breakdown products of dead carcasses in the offal pits, the leaching of cattle urine into the water table, the health of the animals themselves and the health of the humans working with them.

4. The pharmaceuticals created from the human proteins in the milk of the transgenic animals have all failed in clinical trials on human subjects. This calls into question the ongoing need for the trials using human genes in animals.

Claire Bleakley said all sixteen oral presentations against the application called for it to be declined by ERMA. She said until the current trials have ended and been peer reviewed, independently assessed and published, no further trials should be undertaken.


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