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Campaigners condemn more GE animal experiments

GE Free New Zealand

GE Free NZ in food and environment Press Release 26.11.01

GE-Free campaigners condemn threats to New Zealand's marketing image and cultural values from more GE animal experiments. AgResearch push for GE trials for sheep with unidentified end use.

New Zealand's image is being threatened by animal experiments targeted at producing GE organisms for food, but disguised as medical research. And the government is set to ignore values shared by Maori and the general public by allowing more animal experiments for unidentified "medical' purposes.

Dr Paul Atkinson of Agresearch has said a field trial to produce sheep with "bigger
backsides" and therefore more meat was not ready to progress beyond the laboratory
and that he did not know when it would be advanced.
(Akl Herald 24.11.01)

The Agresearch trial was originally notified as research to improve meat quality, but approved during a voluntary moratorium on all applications but those with medical use, the details of the project changed to that of a medical nature. Material, designated to be circulated to all opponents and proponents prior to the hearing, was produced at the hearing promulgating potential benefits in medical areas.

"It appears that as a result of a failure to produce suitable clones this debatable experiment been shelved for the moment but it is again being referred to as an application for more meat. However, conflicting reports from AgResearch have suggested that
outdoor experimentation will continue once successful clones have been produced," said Ms Lees for GE-Free NZ. " But this experimentation flies in the face of some key findings of the Royal Commission. Outside trials are a threat to biosecurity and the New Zealand brand image".

In a recent, publicly unnotified, application for GE manipulation of possums to promote sterility (via consumption of potatoes and carrots with an immuno-contraceptive capability) approval documents commented that risks of cross species infections due
to prion disease were unable to be calculated due to the unavailability of research.

"This deliberate ignoring of major gaps in scientific data , especially when there is a clear lesson to be learned from Mad cow disease and the power of prions to jump species ,is worse than foolhardy." said Ms Lees. " Exposing the New Zealand environment and our
international standing to this kind of threat is to be condemned".

Susie Lees-03 546 7966

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