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NZ Brand Image threatened

NZ Brand Image threatened as Agresearch admit: GE cows for cheap cheese not 'medical cures'.

Agresearch has gone public with revelations that GE cows promoted to the New Zealand public as offering miracle cures are aimed at altering dairy products for human consumption and to increase profits of cheese manufacturers.

There is serious concern that the revelation could threaten New Zealand's trade and exports by signalling a shift into biotech -food and away from our clean, green, natural marketing image.

" This is a threat to our Brand- image.GM food products have been widely rejected around the world, " says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment."There could be a serious negative backlash from overseas consumers as news spreads about the shift in the nature of New Zealand's dairy research". AgResearch's claims for making cheaper cheese have been published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, and reported to the world by the BBC. The AgResearch scientists now say that their "medical" experiments could offer big savings for cheese manufacturers.

They wrote "When projected on to the production scale of the dairy industry, the
increases observed in our study represent large changes that would
translate into substantial economic gains" .

The misleading promotion of GE cow experiments, and the potential to damage our export economy add urgency to calls for the Bio Ethics Council to review these animal experiments. "There must be immediate scrutiny of the ethical justification for cruel experiments being done for the convenience of corporations marketing cheese," says Mr Carapiet Claims that the genetically engineered milk from the cloned cows is 'enhanced' are rejected by GE Free New Zealand as being a misleading and innaccurate representation of the facts. "Enhancement implies the product is better than the original. These descriptions may be a ploy to encourage investment in Biotech but the overhyped claims and publicity could seriously damage New Zealand's export- reputation in dairy products," says Mr Carapiet. There has been a noticeable media push describing the unproven medical use
of GE is being used by the pro GE lobby to influence the public into
accepting genetic engineering in New Zealand. "The New Zealnd public will be surprised and angered that experiments sold to us as for medical research are now being touted as being for the benefit of Cheese manufacturers. Yet there is no evidence that such products are necessary, safe or even wanted by consumers."says Mr Carapiet. Even apart from the Marketing issues, the safety of products from cloned animals, like other GM products - has not been adequately researched. No food safety agency has yet made a decision as to whether produce from cloned animals can be used for human food. Proper studies into the effects of these novel products short- or long-term, have simply not been done.

ENDS - Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370 BBC Report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2696725.stm
Monday, 27 January, 2003, 01:11 GMT
GM cheese from cow clones

Scientists in New Zealand have created the world's first cow clones that
produce special milk that can increase the speed and ease of cheese-making.

The increases observed in our study represent large changes that would
translate into substantial economic gains

The researchers in Hamilton say their herd of nine transgenic cows make
highly elevated levels of milk proteins - called casein - with improved
processing properties and heat stability.

Cows have previously been engineered to produce proteins for medical
purposes, but this is the first time the milk itself has been genetically

The scientists hope the breakthrough will transform the cheese industry,
and - if widened - the techniques could ! also be used to "tailor" milk for
human consumption.

But opponents of GM foods continue to doubt whether such products will be safe.

'Substantial gains'

The researchers, led by Goetz Laible, engineered cells in the laboratory to
overproduce casein proteins. The cells were then fused with cow eggs.

The resulting embryos were transferred into recipient cows, and 11
transgenic calves were born. Nine were found to produce the enhanced milk.

One protein, called kappa-casein, increases heat stability in the
cheese-making process.

The other, beta-casein, improves the process by reducing the clotting time
of the rennet, which curdles the milk.

It also increases the expulsion of whey, the watery part of milk which
remains after the cheese has formed.

The cows are now producing milk with 8-20% more beta-casein, and double the
normal amount of kappa-casein.

Reporting their findings in the journal N! ature Biotechnology, the
scientists said that controlling levels of the two proteins could offer big
savings for cheese manufacturers.

"When projected on to the production scale of the dairy industry, the
increases observed in our study represent large changes that would
translate into substantial economic gains," they wrote.

© Scoop Media

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