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ERMA Decision Making Challenged Again

Soil & Health Association of New Zealand

23 November 2010

ERMA Decision Making Challenged in the High Court Again

ERMA's loose GE decision making is again being challenged in the High Court according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ (Soil & Health - Organic NZ).

Genetically engineered (GE) animals are once again subject of an appeal by GE Free NZ in the Wellington High Court. GE Free NZ in food and the environment Inc (GE Free NZ) had previously been successful in appealing an Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) decision allowing a broad approach to GE experiments on cattle, sheep and goats, but that was later overturned by the Court of Appeal on procedural grounds.

"The current High Court hearing beginning at 10am Wednesday 24 November is another appeal by GE Free NZ against the ERMA decision to allow sheep, goats and cows to be genetically engineered by AgResearch in potentially hundreds of thousands of combinations from a vast list of potential proteins and genes," said Soil & Health-Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

"By granting such a broad brush application ERMA has not given the public the ability to comment on the individual risks of each new organism that AgResearch intends to develop. The cultural offensiveness of using genetic material from other species in modifying farm animals has been aggravated in the application by the new combinations not even being clearly identified."

"Soil & Health-Organic NZ will be attending the hearing in support of GE Free NZ who is being represented by Barrister Tom Bennion."

"Soil & Health-Organic NZ has previously commissioned a Colmar- Brunton poll which clearly identified that most New Zealanders were against genetic engineering of animals, and the vast majority of the 1545 submissions to the original application by AgResearch were opposed to the inability to identify the outcome of AgResearch's experiments, yet ERMA ignored the law that requires identification of a new organism," said Mr Browning.

Soil & Health-Organic NZ has recently appeared at an ERMA hearing in opposition to the genetic engineering of thousands of pine trees at Rotorua, where intended experimentation was again broad, although appeared to be narrowed to approximately 50 different GE tree lines. AgResearch has applied for an undefined and almost infinite number of potential lines, with unidentified risks.

Soil & Health-Organic NZ commends GE Free NZ for its work on ensuring ERMA uses correct process in its decision making. Soil & Health believes GE animals have no place in a clean green 100% Pure Aotearoa New Zealand and has a vision of an Organic 2020.


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