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Health concerns ignored at the GE pine hearing

by Don Murray, Graeme Tyree, Susie Lees - Nelson

At the GE Pine Tree hearing yesterday in Wellington, Nelsonians were shocked to hear that modified genetic material COULD escape into the biosphere. Whilst the applicant Carter Holt Harvey Forestry told the ERMA hearing that they would use "their best endeavours” to recover genetic pollution should it occur, they had not yet researched this possibility and under the HSNO Act ERMA would be unable to hold them responsible.

The HSNO Act sponsored by the National Nelson MP is seriously flawed. Some of the limitations emerged today, when evidence concerning health issues was considered irrelevant. Concerns about pollen allergies, mounting antibiotic resistance and unpredictable public health problems were dismissed.

A joint deal struck between International Paper ( Carter Holt Harvey Forest ), Westvaco Corporation, Fletcher Forests and Monsanto.has made $60 million available to buy Genesis' forestry patents, and promote GE experimentation on pine and eucalyptus in our country. The applicant denies any economic benefit to either themselves or NZers.

Iwi submitters said an adverse effect to intrinsic values was at stake.and that mixing genes is unnacceptable to Maori.

A Lower Hutt pathologist, stated in a written submission that: "Antobiotic genes are an unacceptable marker technique which even the GE industry is moving away from."

All submitters heard argued that there is no beneficial outcome from these tests to counterbalance any risk, other than the perceived possible benefit of further GE on radiata pine. The sole beneficiaries would be the transnational cartel of overseas corporations.

In the event of approval and subsequent commercialisation, ordinary NZers could become victims of scientific experimentation without their consent and potentially liable to carry any resulting financial and health costs.

Representatives of Monsanto, and the Forest Research Inst. observed the proceedings, this could be due to various other applications in the pipeline.

The press were conspicuous by their abscence.


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