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Application to Present Rebuttal Evidence

19 February 2001

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification
Dalmuir House
The Terrace
PO Box 3554

Application to Present Rebuttal Evidence

1. On 1 February the Green Party presented the evidence of Dr Elaine R Ingham.

2. The main conclusion presented by Dr Ingham is that a genetically engineered Klebsiella planticola bacterium, if released into the environment, has the potential to kill all terrestrial plant life on the planet.

3. Her further assertion is that US authorities approved field trials involving the modified bacterium with little or no understanding of the ecological consequences and it was only as a result of independent action by herself and a student Michael Holmes that possible environmental disaster was avoided.

4. Dr Ingham cites a paper: Holmes, M. and E.R. Ingham. (1999) Ecological effects of genetically engineered Klebsiella planticola released into agricultural soil with varying clay content. Appl. Soil Ecol. 3:394-399. to justify reaching the above conclusions.

5. It is the opinion of three scientists (Drs Walter, Berridge and Tribe) who have reviewed the published results of the research undertaken by Holmes and Ingham, that Dr Ingham's conclusions are not substantiated by that research, and are therefore scientifically unsustainable.

6. The NZ Life Sciences network is presenting this rebuttal statement because it is the strong opinion of the scientists who have reviewed the evidence that Dr Ingham has presented unsupported and inaccurate information to the Royal Commission by incorrectly interpreting published scientific information. They are of the opinion that Dr Ingham's assertions have no scientific validity.

7. It is also the Network’s rebuttal evidence that Dr Ingham’s assertions about approval of field trials by the US authorities is incorrect. We wish to present evidence to the contrary.

8. The NZ Life Sciences Network shares the concern of the three reviewers about the scientifically unsupportable and exaggerated assertions made, and that a number of other submitters have relied on those assertions to support their own claims about the impacts of genetic modification.

9. A detailed paper from Dr Christian Walter, Dr Michael Berridge and Dr David Tribe setting out the evidence from Dr Ingham we wish to rebut and the details of the further evidence in rebuttal is attached.

10. The Network was unable to address these matters in its main submission and evidence because we were unaware of the specific assertions being made by Dr Ingham and the Green Party until their evidence was presented on 1 February 2001, several months after the Network’s case was prepared.

11. Please confirm receipt of this application and please advise me promptly whether the Royal Commission intends to grant our application for submission of rebuttal evidence.

Yours sincerely

Francis Wevers
Executive Director

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