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The Challenge of 'Poison Chalice' of GE Cows

Bio-Ethics Council faces challenge with 'Poison Chalice' of GE cows

The appointment of the Bio Ethics Council is a long-overdue step in the direction of ensuring an ethical foundation for technology in this country, but the Council must immediately address existing breaches of fundamental community values if it is to have credibility.

"The Council must seize and deal with the poison chalice that has been created by ERMA's landmark approval of experimentation using human genes to alter the mammary glands of cows," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

Despite strenuous arguments from government Ministers that the Council will not be allowed to look at "individual cases", the Cows decision is much wider than a normal single application and raises fundamental issues for the country that are at the heart of the Councils' role.

" The government cannot hide behind a technicality. It is obvious to anyone that the Cows application is not a single issue. It impacts the status and direction of a major industry that is the backbone of the economy. Public discussion is needed on the ethics of something that impacts all of the community because of the direction it takes our economy," says Mr Carapiet.

"The people appointed to the Council are in an unenviable position of having to effectively defend basic human values in the face of corporate speculative experimentation that the government is actually backing," he says.

GE-Free NZ believe the public will be able to very quickly gauge how successful The Council has been in meeting its mandated role because of things that are already going on and the need for urgent action.

"The Council must urgently advise government on the fact that there is currently NO moratorium on GM field trials in New Zealand, yet last week the British Medical Association called for a stop to GE field trials".

" They need to advise on the ethics of selling unlabelled GE foods without any independent or long term testing and which the British Medical Association called to be withdrawn from the food chain," says Mr Carapiet.

"They need to also advise on the ethics of government policy that has applications for irreversible and uninsurable GM release open from October."

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