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ERMA slammed for not warning Minister about cows

Approval for GE experiments 'out -of-control': ERMA slammed for not warning Minister about GE cows. Hodgson asked to intervene.

ERMA's failure to warn government Ministers about a GE project copying human genes into cows has led to a situation where the government is unable to stop unethical GE experiments and where the approval process itself is ' out of control '.

The AgResearch project for ten years of animal experimentation will not be subjected to scrutiny by the new Bio Ethics Council and ERMA is being blamed for closing the door on the Council's involvement.

"ERMA failed in the duty of care to warn the Minister for the Environment that she only had 15 days to call in the application, or that the application would proceed without any opportunity for the Bio Ethics Council to contribute to the decision", says Jon Carapiet- a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

"ERMA knew the Council was being set up specifically to look at these kind of experiments but had been delayed . ERMA knew that once the Ministerial call-in period had lapsed nothing would be able to stop the approval process,"says Mr Carapiet.

As a result the approval process for some of the most ethically and morally contentious experiments in New Zealand is effectively out of control: ERMA have no option but to proceed with processing the application. The Minister has no power to ensure that ethical issues go before the Bio Ethics Council. The Bio Ethics Council has no power and no say in the process whatsoever. The public are left to rely on ERMA who admit they lack any expertise in ethics, and who have already failed to alert the Minister because they believe precedents set before the Royal Commission make their approval-process legitimate.

ERMA appear to have deliberately allowed a situation to result which side-steps one of the most important recommendations of the Royal Commission. ERMA should reject the application and if a re-application is made must ensure the Bio Ethics Council are allowed to be involved.

"The only alternative is for AgResearch themselves to voluntarily withdraw the application until the ethical issues are reviewed. Today I have written to Pete Hodgson, Minister of Science and Technology to intervene by asking AgResearch to temporarily withdraw the application," says Mr Carapiet.

Ends Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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