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ERMA Faces Protest over GE Cows Approval

ERMA Faces Protest over GE Cows Approval

Protest at ERMA's decision to allow development of GE cows in deliberate contradiction of the Royal Commission on GM will be on the agenda today when ERMA meets with community groups in Auckland.

The RCGM 2001 made a key recommendation 7.5 ( p. 355 of vol. I RCGM report)
"that, wherever possible, non-food animals, or animals less likely to find their way into the food chain, be used as bioreactors rather than animals that are a common source of food."

The recent decision by a sub-committee of ERMA to to clear the way for AgResearch to import GM embryos aimed at producing lactoferrin in milk allows work to take place that goes directly against this key finding of the Royal Commission aimed at building consensus on appropriate use of GE technology.

The GE lactoferrin project differs in important ways from other experiments that have been allowed because :

1) It has no claims to being of medical significance

2) It uses animals as bioreactors in a way that directly goes against uses the Royal Commission said were acceptable to New Zealanders

3) It is a precursor to manufacturing a product that will directly compete with a readily-available product sold by New Zealand farmers today

4) Has virtually no new benefits in terms of scientific learning because the novel genetic material is being imported and already well-understood traditional husbandry techniques will be used in development.

5) It will produce a product that is totally untested for its safety for infants with whom it may be used, and for which ethical ways of safety pre-testing are problematic

"There is particular concern that new ERMA CEO Rob Forlong was personally involved in the three-person panel that made a decision so fundamentally against the Royal Commission's findings," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The decision raises doubts about the ethical basis for ERMA's processes and the issue will be one of the major concerns to be raised at this evening's Community and Environmental Group (CEG) meeting at the Carlton Hotel in Auckland.

ENDS


Reference

ERMA/ COMMUNITY/ ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP AGENDA
Wednesday 23 November 2005 at 5.00pm 7.00pm Tui II Suite, Carlton
Hotel Corner Mayoral Drive and Vincent Street Auckland


1 Welcome/Introductions
2 Discuss format of CEG meetings including Action Points/Minutes see
note #1.
3 Pesticides Reassessment Update
4 Review use of 1080 effects on honey bees Bob Blair
5 Discussion about the way in which ERMA/MAF liaise (HSNO Act/Biosecurity Act) to address ongoing concerns about ERMA/MAF inappropriate handling of the illegal GM biosecurity breach involving GE contaminated maize (Liberty Link T25) accidentally planted in 2003 at a number of sites in the North Island (including one site in Far North District, Northland) discovered in 2004 and the failure of any central government agency to notify or give basic information to local government about an illegal GE biosecurity breach on their turf see note #2.
6 The failure by ERMA to act on assurances given to NorthlandConservation Board at a meeting in Whangarei on 21 Jan 05 (to set up a new notification protocol so that in the event of any future illegal GM biosecurity breach that local authorities are notified in writing within 5 working days), this is particularly relevant in view of the latest GM contamination (maize)scare (grain silo at Onehunga, fortunately it was subsequently discovered that the GM contamination picked up in the maize was due to the maize being stored with some imported soy meal that had GM contamination) see note #3.
7 AgResearch /new GE cows issue of inadequate public notification"development" vs "field trial".
8 AgResearch's Lactoferrin cows process in conjunction with PharmingNetherlands)/ ERMA's decision on amendments under section 67a/ exclusion of public / breaching RCGM recommendations/ clarification regarding publicnotification re: GE field trial application (vs "development). 9 Outputs from last ETHICS consultation round and timeline/ processfor integrating ethical process for ERMA
10 HGT research updates, and ongoing monitoring / prevention of soilcontamination eg at PPL site
11 Update on GE trees and any other applications that are expected orhave been suggested as likely
12 Any other business

Notes
#1 Protocols for ERMA CEG meetings : need for written agreed actionpointsbefore the end of each meeting to avoid previous incidents of confusion oraction points being forgotten
#2 Process of ERMA working with local councils and the urgent ongoingneedfor new notification protocols for local authorities (regional andterritorial authorities) including the event of any future illegal GMbiosecurity breach. Need for notification of local authorities on a District(not just Regional) basis. (ie. it is not good enough to notify theNorthland Regional Council, or Northland territorial authority or NorthlandConservation Board that an illegal GM biosecurity breach has occurred"somewhere in Northland".
#3 ERMA / Maf interface. Concerns about interface between MAF/ERMA whendealing with illegal GM biosecurity breaches i.e. HSNO Act /Biosecurity Actand concern that central govt agencies are not responding in an adequatemanner to biosecurity breaches (GE, rocksnot, Maize replanting incontaminated fields etc)

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