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House Of Lords' Concern For Gene Editing 'Skeleton' Bill Is A Warning For NZ Lawmakers

New Zealand biosecurity is at risk from the same serious flaws in regulations that have been identified in the UK House of Commons Genetic Technology Bill.

The House of Lords Committee has found a lack of transparency and failure of accountability that could lead to grave conflicts of Interest in the House of Commons “Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill”. This Bill could be termed “The Skeleton Bill” as it proposes to leave all decisions around genetically engineered (GE) new biotechnologies to the Minister, Biotech and regulators.

The Bill intends to reduce the regulatory burden and financial barriers for researchers and commercial breeders using 'precision breeding technologies' though the definitions and compliance are vague and inappropriate.

This is a warning for New Zealand not to make the same mistakes.

"This would mean that people can no longer trust that UK imports are non-GE due to the lack of traceability," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

"Traceability and the integrity of food safety systems are vital to New Zealand's exports, but are effectively destroyed by such pushes for deregulation."

"Pesticides are being removed due to their unexpected adverse persistent toxicity to the environment, insects and people. Yet the Skeleton Bill is set up to allow the same corporations to escape regulation and release unknown persistent genetic pollution that contaminates the whole environment, with no accountability."

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The UK Bill proposes to remove all barriers to regulation regarding food and feed derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOS). Plants and animals produced from new biotechnologies, like gene edited (“precision bred organisms” (PBOs)) that do not have extra genes added are exempt from regulation. [2]

The Bill gives unbridled power to the Minister to decide how information on GE food and feed will be imported, marketed and sold to consumers and exporters.

The revolving door between Pesticide Corporations and Government Regulators has shown that data is hidden from the public and many years later we are seeing chronic environmental and health effects that were overlooked by embedded regulators.

Will future generations be cleaning up the widespread GE diseases and pollution that have been released without adequate regulation as to the long-term adverse effects?

The House of Lords has revealed conflicts of interest and gaping anomalies in bad legislation that New Zealand must learn from. The undermining of biosecurity and the integrity of our food system must be prevented from happening here.

References

[1] https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/31859/documents/179130/default/

[2] https://www.gmwatch.org/en/106-news/latest-news/20137-uk-house-of-lords-committees-slam-genetic-technology-bill

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