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Government should help fund MADGE challenge

GE Free (NZ) says Government should help fund MADGE challenge to GE cows

GE Free (NZ) supports the decision of MADGE to seek a judicial review of the process approving new GE cows at Ruakura, and believe there is widespread public support for the move.

The government itself should make funds available to MADGE in the interest of ensuring good governance for this most contentious area of commerce.

If an illegal decision has made under the Government's own regulations (HSNO) it is the interest of every New Zealander to challenge such a decision. Because of limitations to the existing system, the only way for the public of New Zealand to do this is by a High Court challenge.There should be a source of public funding to assist such a process rather than public money being used to pay Russell McVeigh and subsidise commercial interests.

MADGE is representing many thousands of informed parents who are concerned by ERMA's decision and the process behind it.The Royal Commission itself published research showing most New Zealanders opposed such GE animal experiments, and the Commission reccomended against using our food animals in this way. Despite this, alternative research, and the Bio Ethics Council set up to give general advice on such matters, have been sidelined. Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) said, "If the Court orders up-front costs it will be a dis-service to the public.It is outrageous that taxes payed by New Zealanders are being used to fund lawyers that are opposing the public interest. The public cannot allow the HSNO Act to just be interpreted along the lines of the GE industry goals. Their goals are for commercial profit, not long term health environmental safety issues related to the so-far failed trials."

The ERMA decision approving the trial, ignored a majority of the submitters many of whom presented documented evidence of serious risk, and inadequate containment from vectors like insects and birds that will spread transgenic material.

Submitters raised concerns as to the ongoing effects from contamination of the environment by plasmids, bits of DNA, and antibiotic resistant marker genes, warning that these particles pose unquantified and unmanaged risks including from viral recombination.

This is the health risk which ERMA refuses to see in their "risk" management process. It is not simply a matter of economic risk. The Minister and the ERMA Authority chose to ignore these precautionary principles and allow the trial to go ahead.

Claire Bleakley said, "The results of the previous GE trials have not been evaluated and there are grave concerns with health issues of the animals and the viability of the milks. These problems need to be understood before any new experiments
start. Researchers are beginning to consider the link between the random splicing of genetic material across species barriers (GE) and lethal mutations of viral diseases like SARS. In this case, the public of New Zealand should have the right to challenge the decision, in light of no other avenue being open."

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