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Public Confidence in GM regulators undermined

Breaches Undermine Public and Investor Confidence in GM regulators

Recent incidents where GM regulations have been breached will only further weaken public confidence in the process supposed to protect the food we eat. Lack of the correct signals from government also undermines appropriate investment in the biotechnology sector. Investment needs to be channelled to ethical applications that can be properly controlled or they will fail to find acceptance either by the public or our markets.

In the last few months it has been shown that there is a cavalier attitude by some scientists, who have overtly disregarded safety controls on their experiments put in place by the regulatory authorities.

In April ERMA was notified that an experimental transgenic potato crop had been harvested by mechanical methods that contravened the controls placed on the experiment. The result of this mechanical harvesting was to spread the buffer plants outside the containment facility.

"Crop and Food deliberately contravened control 11, an ERMA ruling. This cavalier and shoddy attitude seriously undermines their claims of caution and responsible scientific practice" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The Food Safety Authority have also recently admitted it did not require important evidence on BT11 corn, and approved it without looking at the animal feeding results. However in April this year the French daily newspaper Le Monde reported that a 90-day feeding trial by Monsanto showed differences in rats fed MON863, compared with those fed conventional corn.

The effects included: significant increases in white blood cells in males; reduced levels of immature red blood cells in females; significant increases in blood sugar in females; and, increased abnormalities such as degeneration or inflammation in the kidneys of male rats.

Monsanto knew of the data but kept quiet about it.

"How can the public trust any company who wants to hide such significant data?" says Claire Bleakley. "Companies need to be bought to account. It is time the government signalled to those wanting to invest in biotechnology that they must focus on sustainable GE Free production and ethical uses of biotechnology in containment."

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