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Floods Illustrate Risks Of Accidental Spread Of GE

GE Free New Zealand
PRESS RELEASE –25.2.04

Floods Illustrate Risks Of Accidental Spread Of GE

The recent devastating floods in the North Island have left many people homeless, and farmers ruined. The floods covered large distances, with crops and animals often being found a long way from where they came. Organic and conventional farms have been left to clean up seed, leaves and in some cases carcasses from other farms often many miles away.

What protection would farmers have if floods were to carry crops or animals that are genetically engineered? Have MAF developed emergency contingency plans to deal with any such episodes?

Recent events have illustrated the very real risks of damage that GE would have on NZ agriculture. Any such incidents would be unlikely to involve any recompense to farmers or to future generations of New Zealanders.

"The government did not heed the concerns of fruit growers, farmers or the public when it amended the HSNO Act," said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment. "ERMA's response was that "insurance would cover the eventuality" however, insurance companies refuse to insure for "nuclear accidents or GE contamination."

The Royal Commission considered that New Zealand would have no use for herbicide or pesticide resistant GE food crops, but suggested ‘pharm’ crops, engineered to produce industrial chemicals and drugs may have some use.

If ever allowed in New Zealand the spread of these GE organisms by accident would be an even greater threat to this country and accidents have already been happening with ‘pharm’ crops overseas.

In America, the Washington-based Union for Concerned Scientists warns that ‘pharm’ crops could already be poisoning GM-free crops grown for food, since contamination of food supplies by GE ‘pharm’ crops, usually produced in maize, has already occurred several times. Studies also show that if soil is contaminated it will be forever. GE Free New Zealand have concerns that GE sheep and any ash from up to 3000 incinerated GE sheep with human genes, could also have been dispersed by floods if they occurred in those areas where trials are being conducted?

" We are requesting answers from ERMA as to whether ash was disposed of, on-site or offsite or even put into local rubbish tips?" says Ms. Bleakley? UK reports said that BSE was found not to be killed during incineration. Failed UK company PPL’s trial showed three rams had scrapie type changes in the brains. Were the euthanased GE sheep checked for this prion disease before incineration? GE sheep and cows are also may have been disposed of in unlined offal pits. If so, leachates from these could now be leaking into ground water in the Hamilton and Taupo regions. Will New Zealand taxpayers be left to pay for any clean up, if indeed this is possible?

"What is our Government and the regulatory bodies MAF and ERMA doing about this. The recent devastating floods signal that our biosecurity, environment and health are at risk." says Claire Bleakley.

PPL claimed that AAT was to be used to treat emphysema. Their experimentation was bankrolled by Bayer, who are understood to have conducted years of off-the-record trials with genuine human AAT on USA emphysemics that showed AAT protein to be of little practical use in treating the disease. It is puzzling that despite the lack of any clinical success Bayer went on pouring millions of dollars into the experiment. A US scientist recently said that even if the claimed benefit of developing drugs through these experiments had been delivered, the risk of contamination of the food supply or breeding stock rises with the number of GE animals and would be a serious threat to our meat export market.

ENDS
Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

Crops 'widely contaminated' by genetically modified DNA
16:43 23 February 04
NewScientist.com news service
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994709

US scientists are warning of a potentially "serious risk to human health" after the discovery that traditional varieties of major American food crops are widely contaminated by DNA sequences from GM crops.

Crops engineered to produce industrial chemicals and drugs - so-called "pharm" crops - could already be poisoning ostensibly GM-free crops grown for food, warns the study by the Washington-based Union for Concerned Scientists, released on Monday.

"If genes find their way from pharm crops to ordinary corn, they or their products could wind up in drug-laced corn flakes," says the report's co-author, UCS microbiologist Margaret Mellon.

MORE:
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994709

ENDS

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