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GE-Free group backs Chief Scientist

GE-Free group backs Chief Scientist on 'Responsible Biotechnology' 7.2.03

GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment supports Chief scientist Kieran
Elborough for highlighting researchers ability to use Biotechnology in a
responsible manner that prevents irreversible release of GE organisms.

Announcements about the latest research using marker assisted breeding (MAB) techniques in contained laboratories is encouraging. It demonstrates that advances using conventional breeding assisted by qualitative genetic screening is
being taken seriously by scientists.

MAB is emerging as the best use for GM techniques that will avoid potentially catastrophic spread of GE constructs. Until recently scientists had also suggested other techniques incorporating GE constructs into plants' chloroplasts (rather than the cell nucleus) could help stop the spread of contamination. However this looks imposible given recent findings published in Nature showing the chloroplast genes are not stable and migrate into the nucleus to produce contaminated pollen.

Recent New Zealand research demonstrates that advances in gene typing will
help to advance the conventional breeding of plants for specific conditions. Claire Bleakley said "New Zealand shows that MAB can lead the world in this type of work without the need for genetic engineering. It can also preserve its clean green image this way".

' This is the direction our national biotechnology strategy should embrace," said Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

GE Free NZ supports the use of research into the selection of cultivars by
MAB and conventional breeding but does not approve the release of
genetically engineered crops into the environment.

Genetic engineering technology inserts foreign proteins into host cells
using antibiotics and viruses posing a biosecurity risk to New Zealand
agriculture and affecting the economy in all areas of the environment, trade
and society.

Claire Bleakley said " ERMA must recall and halt any new GE experiments in
light of this new information. It shows we do not need transgenic organisms.
To date GE has cost the taxpayer millions and shown no monetary or other
benefit to New Zealand. It has created biosecurity threats as well as
extreme animal suffering and sickness."

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