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ERMA warned of mad cow threat from GE experiments

ERMA warned of "mad cow" threat from GE experiments.


Press Release- 14th August 2002

ERMA warned of "mad cow" threat from GE experiments.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority was warned today that New Zealand could be hit with its own form of scrapie - or mad cow- style diseases as a result of transgenic experiments being proposed by AgResearch.

In a submission for Friends of the Earth at hearings being held in Hamilton, ERMA were presented with 5 papers reviewing the evidence that "prion" diseases could become more likely as a direct result of transgenic experiments creating a suitable environment for prion diseases to emerge.

Ironically the reason why overseas researchers are keen to come to New Zealand for animal experiments is that animals here are currently free of such diseases.

The papers written by Associate Professor Peter Wills were presented during the second day of hearings, with a warning that little was understood about the mechanics that could create such diseases and which could devastate our export economy.

Speaking to submissions from GE-Free NZ (in food and environment), GE-Free Northland, and Friends of the Earth, Jon Carapiet said ERMA was being deceived if it was being led to believe all the scientific uncertainties and risks could be properly managed in the proposed project.

" The open field with a double fence is not a contained environment. Scientists are saying that we know so little about the complexities of prion disease that we could accidentally create one and then unintentionally let it spread," says Mr Carapiet.

Mr Carapiet also urged ERMA for a stricter analysis of the economic risks and benefits of the AgResearch project. "There is an issue of accounting as well as science and ethics. What are the dollar figures of the risks and benefits? Who will actually profit financially? Who is carrying the risk?"

Hearings are due to continue through Thursday.

Ends. Contact Jon Carapiet on 09 815 3370


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