17/06/2007

ERMA Given Notice of Possible High Court Action

 

ERMA Given Notice of Possible High Court Action

GE Free NZ (in food and environment) has notified ERMA of the likelihood that a case will be filed to the High Court following last months approval of GE Brassica field trials.

The notification was made after a meeting between ERMA and NGO’s where questions were raised about alternative ways to re-open the decision to approve the trials. ERMA staff had been asked to consider the possibility of a meeting of interested parties to try and avoid the costly process of Court action, but the proposal was turned down.

The meeting in Wellington was also advised of yet more applications for field trials to create GE leeks, onions and garlic containing herbicide- resistant, insecticide and other 'improvement' traits.

Rising concern over ERMA’s approval of other minor and technical amendments that excluded public participation, was also discussed. One of the Crown Research Institutions involved has made applications under section 67A of the HSNO Act, that has normally be open to public submission.

“It is clear that applied-for changes to the conditions of existing field trials would actually be against the law and should be opened up for public submissions” says Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and Environment (1).

“What seems to be happening is that scientific, economic and ethical issues raised in the public submission process are being downgraded or ignored. When combined with the failure of CRI’s to provide complete information about the risks, the result is New Zealand being opened up to a “rent a space and we’ll clean up after you” mentality.”

ERMA also reported that they expected to soon receive a new application that would ask to use live virus sequences instead of synthetic ones as part of a human/bovine research project.

“ERMA told the meeting that they advised the Crown Research Institute to contact anyone interested in the issue, but that public comments could not be given any weight,” says Claire Bleakley.

“The system is clearly not working when, after twelve years of approvals we still have no data or diagnostic tools to detect human, or animal health effects from the GE products being tested. Even though there are no data to inform the decision-making process, ERMA keeps allowing new applications to be approved even when evidence of harm has been detected in animals and ecosystems overseas," says Mrs Bleakely. "How long will it be before our Health system is dealing with cancers or immune breakdown or sudden death, simply because tests that would prevent them are not being done at any stage?"

This disregard for scientific rigour needed to protect the environment and human safety is creating an alarming situation. Some New Zealand scientists are no longer engaged in sound research, but have become glorified animal and plant developers being paid by the highest bidder, and willing to leave the taxpayer to pay for clean up and monitoring at the end of field trials.

This situation must be addressed as it cannot have been the intention of Parliament in passing the HSNO Act. GE Free NZ will be seeking public donations if the case goes ahead.
ENDS:

Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731 (06) 3089842
Jon Carapiet- 0210 507 681

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