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Commercial Interests Compromise GMO Claims

Commercial Interests Compromise GMO Scientists' Claims

The vested commercial interests of scientists meeting at the 10th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms means the public can have little confidence in the independence or credibility of their risk-analysis.

The GM Biosafety Symposium being held in Wellington this week has been positioned to journalists as a chance for researchers to exchange ideas on the risk of GMO's. But many of the speakers at the media-briefing on Monday are scientists with vested interests in promoting the hasty commercialisation of GMOs for private gain, and seek to profit by allowing risks to be 'socialised' onto the wider community. Other speakers from overseas have also been lobbying at the UN for a weakening of the Cartegena rules.

Claims of scientific safety made by those directly benefitting from commercial ventures are compromised by a blind-eye being turned to new independent information about the complexities of gene-functioning, and to the proven risks to society from unbridled commercialisation of gene technology" says Jon Carapiet from 'GE Free NZ in food and environment'.

“Early-stage research is being rushed to commercial outputs, largely with patenting and license-fees in mind. This Symposium is a talkfest for people who believe that is acceptable," says Jon Carapiet. “Using commercial terms to describe their attitude to what is happening to nature; the 'property rights' of our ancestors, everyone alive today and of future generations are being lost by the privatisation of lifeforms and natural ecosystems."

The criteria for GMO safety and regulation cannot be left in the hands of those with most to gain from commercial science, including staff at government agencies who are part of the “revolving door" with industry that results in commercial GMO-users gaining approval from their former employees.

The question and answer media session being run by the Science Media Centre which is promoting the conference, is only open to a hand picked media contingent. The Science Media Centre has also shown it lacks credibility as a source of balanced information, having remained noticeably silent in discussions of the ethical, environmental and economic risks to New Zealand from AgResearch's plans to go into commercial production using a wide range of GE animals around the country.

"The GE Free media representative was initially approved and then declined an invitation to attend the briefing. This shows that the organised media event is being managed to avoid any risk of the scientists being asked difficult questions," says Claire Bleakley President of GE Free NZ, who will be attending the Conference. "We hope the media will not be hoodwinked into accepting hand-fed selective opinion that fails to reflect the full range of independent published data on the dangers posed by GMO's."

ENDS

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