16/01/2008

Demise of GE Sapling Trees.

 

The biosecurity containment facility at Scion (Forest Research Institute Ltd)in Rotorua has been breached and investigations are underway.

The breach was reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF)on Monday night. GE Free (NZ) was told that entry was gained into the site by cutting of a wire fence underground where 19 GE sapling trees, modified for additional copies of the radiata pine Leafy-like gene (PRFLL), a gene involved in reproductive development, were cut down. A GE Free sign had been left.

"Yet again lax biosecurity around the facilities has endangered New Zealand. This breach comes as no surprise as these trees were a threat to the environment and economy of New Zealand" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment

This comes in the wake of The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) and MAF looking into containment facility control conditions where rabbits had large burrows running alongside the perimeter fence. These holes were fairly deep and the fence wire was exposed. A pile of dying mulched pruning’s, fully exposed to the elements which the audit and enforcement controls required to be incinerated, had been left after a s.67A non notified amendment was changed to allow disposal on site.

There have been regular breaches in CRI protocols and containment facility standards that have not been fully looked into. These include the illegal importation of GE onion seed, impregnation of GE embryo’s into surrogate GE cows, and large rabbit holes around the Scion site.

The December issue of OrganicNZ magazine published photos of a rabbit warren where the animals were getting in and out of the facility. Some of rabbit holes had moss and algae growing in the passages showing that they were well established. It appears that the mandatory weekly fence inspection had not been conducted.

“Rabbits had been a continuing problem over the four years and inspection was clearly not being regularly conducted” said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment

“Each year GE Free (NZ) raises concerns over compliance issues in the annual plan and they are always fobbed off. I only hope that no GE material was taken out of the facility. Responsibility for this negligence and carelessness leading to the breach should lie in part, with the inspection and monitoring agencies”.
ENDS

Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 021 050 7681

References:
OrganicNZ magazine, December/January 2007 issue.

2005 Annual Audit report to ERMA NZ - Application GMF99001/05 -
17 genetically engineered radiata pine and 2 non-engineered controls were planted
on the site in September 2006. These plants are modified for additional copies of the radiata pine Leafy-like gene (PRFLL), a gene involved in reproductive development. They also contain the nptII selective marker gene which was used in the laboratory to identify genetically modified trees. The plants are between 50cm and 200cm height above ground.

http://www.ermanz.govt.nz/no/compliance/ScionFieldTestReport2005.pdf

back to directory