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Would you use a condom with 49 holes in it?

‘Would you use a condom with 49 holes in it?’

The Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs and her Ministry was severely criticised today by the High Court for not taking enough care in allowing GE cow experiments to go ahead.

The fact that the judge could not find faults with the legal process of approvals of GE experiments by ERMA merely confirms the widely held view that the law is inadequate when it comes to protecting the environmental and economic interests of New Zealanders.

In the MAdGE case against the Minister for the Environment, ERMA and AgResearch, Justice Potter ruled today that the Ministry’s “informal understanding” and process to consider applications under the legislation was “unsatisfactory”. She said that MAdGE’s concerns about the processes are justified. She said that given the importance of these matters “a clear protocol is needed supported by systems within the Ministry to ensure that the protocol is observed and that the Ministry is patently accountable in respect of the process”.

MAdGE had argued before the Court that the last two stages of the experiment on the GE cows at Ruakura was not a “development” but a field test.

MAdGE contended that “development” under the HSNO legislation means “genetic modification of a new organism” which stops when the new embryo has been created in the lab. Madge argued and continues to maintain that the last two stages that involve transgenic cows let loose in the open paddock for the purpose of breeding and milking is a field test.

“Justice Potter side-stepped this issue by stating that “the precise point at which experimental procedures become field testing is a matter of scientific judgment” and that this is not able to be reviewed. This demonstrates that Erma is allowed to make unchallenged decisions on the science. Dodging the definition of genetic modification, just because it involves scientific judgments is a cop-out. The fact that Erma can get it so wrong doesn’t bode well for the future biosecurity of New Zealand,” said MAdGE legal spokesperson, Kate Woodd.

The independent ERMA Review Report published last week, criticized the apparent favouritism extended by ERMA to the scientific evidence put forward by applicants in cases involving GE.

The same report commissioned by the Government, also found ERMA to be severely lacking in 49 critical areas.

MAdGE founder Alannah Currie said “all New Zealanders should be very afraid. Our Government is promising to lift the moratorium on GE in October and we don’t have adequate protection in place. Would you use a condom with 49 holes in it?’

In the wake of those findings the mothers are calling for ERMA to be dissolved immediately and a truly rigorous protective agency put in its place.

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