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GE Regulation In NZ Is Robust And Fit For Purpose

GE Regulation In New Zealand Is Robust And Fit For Purpose

New Zealand Ministers and high profile scientists have calling to open the debate on GE and have been signalling the need to review the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms (HSNO) Act to allow gene-editing techniques without the requisite regulatory over sight. [1]

"We welcome open debate, but deregulation of gene editing is not an option. The public trust in product quality has given New Zealand a world-class reputation. This point of difference in the global market would be destroyed," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

The HSNO Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that GMO’s meet ethical controls, scientific education and environmental safety. EPA approval is the basis of the 'license to operate' for biotechnology companies and must not be undermined.

The pressure to change the law to allow new advanced gene editing techniques, however, is not just coming from New Zealand citizens, but from the USA. The US Department of Agriculture (APHIS) is undertaking consultation on the deregulation of genetically engineered organisms that, if passed, would allow self-regulation of agribusiness and deregulation of GE products. [2]

Scientific research continues to reveal significant dangers with the advanced GE technologies. There is a consistent lack of evidence on long term GE safety.

This is seen in the rising pesticide cost to control weed resistance and insect tolerance and it is acknowledged that the long-term viability of GE is a failure. The buy-out of Monsanto by Bayer last year and the massive million dollar costs imposed on Bayer from the long term deleterious effects of Roundup, originally promoted as safe for waterways and drinkable, has seen a 40% collapse in share value and a 3.1% decline in GE revenue. [3]

Since Crown Research Institutes were charged with finding private-public partnerships, they have been reliant on GE development funding from biotech companies. Over the years these have included Monsanto/Bayer, Pharming, Dow and BASF. These alliances have led to hundreds of GE laboratory developments and 10 field trials, approved by the existing legislation.

There are only two GE field trials existing in NZ. This due to either, the failure of the trials to perform, or breaches in the running of the field trial. These GE field trials have cost the taxpayer millions of dollars. The GE cow experiment has resulted in sentient animals living with severe deformities and inhumane suffering and the trial has closed down leaving the animals to live out their lives.

AgResearch’s transgenic GE Rye grass, not gene edited, developed through a private-public partnership has been in development for the last 17 years. [4] In 2017, AgResearch proceeded to conduct a $25 million field trial in the US, but the results are disappointing and remain undisclosed due to being confidential. GE red apples are another example but have yet to yield results. Yet, a red apple developed through conventional breeding, has 30-40% higher antioxidant content than the traditional apple, already exists, and is available commercially. [5]

The persistent disregard for existing high performance solutions, like mixed pasture grasses and forages, high antioxidant conventionally bred red apples, and systems thinking to achieve regenerative agriculture that will sink carbon in healthy soil, are being ignored to promote vested interests rather than the public interest.

“These trial failures signal that it is not New Zealand legislation (HSNO) that is at fault but, rather, GE fails to produce the outcomes envisaged.” said Bleakley
“It is a dangerous and self serving ideology that ignores these failures and refuses to acknowledge existing sustainable solutions.”

New Zealand cannot afford to jeopardise protection of the environment, people’s health, and our economy by allowing deregulation of gene editing and undermining the intention of the HSNO Act legislation.

References:

[1] New Zealand risks becoming a backwater if GM laws are not reviewed New https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/114637869/new-Zealand-risks-becoming-a-backwater-if-gm-laws-not-reviewed

[2] Movement of certain genetically engineered organisms. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/06/06/2019-11704/movement-of-certain-genetically-engineered-organisms

[3] Bayer CEO opens door to settling Roundup cancer cases.
https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-07-30/bayer-settlement-monsanto-roundup-cancer-cases

[4] Lollium perenne (Rye Grass) https://www.epa.govt.nz/database-search/hsno-application-register/view/GMD02064

[5] Red Love Apples https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlove_apples

ENDS:

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