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ERMA's New CEO Faces Ethical Challenge

1 August 2005

ERMA's New CEO Faces Ethical Challenge To Win Back Public Trust

ERMA's new CEO faces the urgent task of restoring public trust in ERMA's decision-making and to prove that Ethical issues will not continue to be sidelined as they have been in recent months.

In the month that ERMA has had no CEO, AgResearch has been given approval to import GE Lactoferrin embryo's into PC2 containment. The joint venture between AgResearch and Pharming, a Dutch GE company who went into recievership in 2001, is set to further compromise our animal safety status and could potentially cause the collapse of our biggest agricultural research organisation.

ERMA has told GE Free NZ that the AgResearch application is being enabled to proceed through a previous generic approval that MADGE fought in court. The MADGE case pointed out the danger that ERMA placed New Zealand in by approving the application, and the latest approval using this loophole only makes things worse.

"The GE lactoferrin deal is a straight commercial transaction, not about gaining scientific expertise. What is more- all the Intellectual Property rights (IP) is owned overseas", says Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

"Our top CRI tells us that a massive manufacturing plant will be set up. But the last promise of this sort ended in bankruptcy and what actually happened is that GE Milk was sent out of the country breaching the containment conditions."

The new CEO of ERMA must take immediate action to stop what is an unethical breach of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on GM. ERMA must not be lured yet again by ill-founded promises of millions of dollars in 'potential' profits, and must decline this application before it goes any further.

"ERMA's ethics and legal responsibility requires that the prequisite controls and studies on the environment and impacts on communities should be integral to any GE experiment" says Claire Bleakley. "However it appears that ERMA and the Minister for the Environment are allowing these issues to be quietly swept under the carpet".

There is also the cloudy issue of whether the application will breed up one bull and then clone for the rest of the progeny. Cloning is not properly regulated by any authority in New Zealand, but must be, especially if GE constructs are being used.

"It is unbelievable that ERMA is allowing the application of yet another GE experiment to proceed despite the dangers," says Claire Bleakley.

If the new CEO fails to act on this issue it will undermine public confidence in ERMA further, and it will be the duty of the Environment Minister to 'call in' the application under the HSNO Act, and to live up to the promises made to the Public over the last four years.

ENDS

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