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Questions raised over PPL sheep conflict

Questions raised over PPL sheep and conflict of interest

Information on the demise of PPL therapeutics and its ties to AgResearch, Celentis and the Whakamaru sheep farm suggests that the Labour government has been having a long term illicit affair with PPL.

New Zealand’s Biotechnology sector advocate, Peter Lennox was head hunted from Scottish Enterprise board where he had been charged with implementing the goals of liquidated PPL. The Scottish Enterprise Board even provided guarantees to underwrite PPL's repayment of GBP 13.8m in loans if something adverse happened.

The link raises questions of a conflict of interest and could explain why PPL has had such an easy ride implementing its move into New Zealand's and liason with Crown Research Institutes. Was Peter Lennox both making GE government policy and working for PPL?

The application to New Zealand occurred in 1994 when there was no government watchdog to oversee genetic engineering. ERMA later rolled over the approval to allow PPL to move to a "manufacturing flock" without due diligence, or any environmental and health controls required to warrant this approval. As a result it has been impossible for ERMA to place stricter controls on this trial, and no research on soil contamination has been undertaken.

The transgenic sheep were made utilising a human alpha-anti trypsin gene from a Danish source, claiming to produce a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Parents were promised a miracle cure to alleviate the suffering of their children. New Zealand taxpayers were promised that millions from the intellectual rights would benefit our economy, and a sheep milk factory was to process a transgenic protein.

The results of the debacle are as follows:

Failed clinical trials. Clean up costs after PPL's liquidation

No scientific research into transgenic effects on the sheep - either from samples taken before the herd was destroyed, or from monitoring of the soil.

A 440 acre farm in Whakamaru with polluted land and an offal pit (on or off site) with 3,000 incinerated sheep, from which ashes may well be leaching into the surrounding countryside after recent adverse weather conditions.

It is possible that some ash may even contain DNA of scrapie or new prion diseases, unfortunately since no environmental or scientific testing is carried out on the trial site, any adverse impacts will not be the subject of research. The New Zealand community are now exposed to the costs of any problems ensuing from this trial.

"The inability of the government to listen and implement the wishes of its people shows the economic reality that government is focussed on is corporate interests" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in our food and environment.

"It appears that the government’s GE Biotechnology sector does not hold the key to New Zealands prosperity- but only the smooth lies to undermine our health, environment and marketing reputation" she says.

GE Free NZ in food and environment calls on ERMA to reassess the GE animal trials at AgResearch and find out who owns them and their intellectual property, and whether GE trials are continuing. Investigation is also needed to assess if there was any misleading and deceptive conduct by the Biotechnology Sector in the matter of the HSNO Amendments and NOOM Bills and in relation to AgResearch/Celentis applications.

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