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Gene Patents - profiteers must carry liability too

GE Free New Zealand
In Food And Environment Inc.
PO Box 693, Nelson
gefree@ts.co.nz www.gefree.org.nz

GE Free NZ 13.8.03 - Press release

Gene Patents - profiteers must carry liability too

The issue of patented genes and genetic technologies has long been a contentious issues and something that GE Free New Zealand have consistently warned of in our submissions.

The $10 million fees being asked of Auckland Hospital by the "owners of the patent on Junk DNA" is just the tip of an alarming iceberg. Urgent action by the government here and internationally is needed to protect the public interest.

"The patenting of genetic technologies means that some medicine will be only available for an elite, and unaffordable to ordinary people" says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in Food and Environment.

"In the past scientific research and medical advances, knowledge and cures were shared for the benefit of all. The protectionist and exploitative takeover by business interests is now becoming obvious and a real economic threat."

"All GE crops and animals and the processes involved in obtaining them are owned and covered by patents, yet these companies refuse to accept liability if things go wrong,” says Jon Carapiet. “It is time the government woke up to the issue instead of burying it's head in the sand. Previously the costs of a test for breast cancer were the subject of a warning from Pharmac about patents reducing access to medical care, yet nothing has been done to address the growing problem.”

Patented genes may even "spread" ownership as they spread contamination. Several years ago Crop and Food scientists carrying out potato experiments confirmed that they would own other potatoes contaminated by any of their errant genes. In the US Monsanto has taken farmers to court for allegedly growing their products without having paid a technology fee, and won.

One is left to question whether the continuing contaminations of maize produced by Novartis / Syngenta or other companies is a covert operation to destroy our diversity and ensure reliance on patented crops.

ENDS
Jon Carapiet - 09 815 3370

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