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ERMA GE decision shows need for new Commissioner

ERMA's exclusion of public in GE decision shows need for new Biotech Commissioner

ERMA is currently processing an application from AgResearch to amend a controversial development approval.

This amendment would allow GE animals containing a human gene lactoferrin to be created for commercial gain without prior environmental or animal and human safety tests. The application appears to ignore the ethical concerns that the majority of New Zealanders have about human genes in other organisms.

“In essence this application is a release and it is wrong that the public of New Zealand are being excluded from the decision. ERMA must be transparent and open by notifying it for a full hearing” said Claire Bleakley from GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

Past productions of milk containing GE proteins have been stopped due to adverse effects observed in clinical trials. Such failures have resulted in bankruptcy of one biotech firm and have severely affected the viability of others.

“There is no way ERMA should be allowing any further experiments until peer-reviewed studies on the safety, environmental effects and economic viability of the original GE animal trials have been published,” said Mrs Bleakley.

"ERMA are showing that they are dismally lacking the proper skills and expertise to enforce the proper protections that reflect the precautionary recommendations of the Royal Commission on GM” she said

“ERMA has been negligent in its failing to follow up on the evidence of the possible horizontal gene transfer at the AgResearch site. The abysmal examination of the annual report, which reveals changes in soil populations and high levels of antibiotic resistance genes, must immediately be fully investigated before there is any possibility of further GE approvals”.

GE Free (NZ) in food and environment call on the incoming Government to set up an independent Biotechnology Commission that can enforce the precautionary approach and develop proper testing and diagnostic tools for the safety of our farmers and consumers.

ENDS:

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