01/04/2008

Ground Breaking GM Case on Cauliflower, Cabbage Broccoli reserved decision

 


The High Court hearing of the GM Brassica case between GE Free NZ and ERMA has ended with a reserved decision.

“This is a ground breaking case and we are very happy at the close of Court with the points that we argued” said Claire Bleakley President of GE Free NZ in food and environment “Our lawyer was very good”.

GE Free argued that under the Hazardous substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act field testing must include testing for adverse effects and that ERMA failed to require testing for adverse effects was wrong in law.

" We believe that field testing is not just a point of keeping a GM organism contained while it grows but to find out what kind of long term dangers it might pose to the environment, animals and humans"

There is a huge gap in law where the applicants and ERMA are refusing to do adverse effects testing to make sure that GE is safe for the environment and human safety.

To date ERMA has totally denied that they have any statutory jurisdiction to ensure that any adverse effects testing into ecosystem and health of the public need to be undertaken at the field trial stage and if it does it is up to the applicant to do it.

GE Free argued that the Field Testing stage is the only place that the safety testing of GM can be done before it is conditionally or fully released. (Conditional release means that it can be commercialised in certain parts of the country without any further effects testing).

Crop and Food argued that it was not the responsibility of ERMA to direct how they carry out their research and if ERMA did impose effects testing they would be open to being taken to court by the applicant.

“Every time GE Free asked the question about how or why adverse testing was not done, the applicant says ERMA does not require us to do it and ERMA say it is not their responsibility to ensure its done” said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“This attitude discounts any scientific, economic and ethical evidence raised in the public submission process and appears to downgrade or ignore the issues to fit in with the process. When combined with the failure of Crown Research Institutes (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 with no accountability as to the dangers that GMO’s pose to the economy, environment and safety of the New Zealand commons.”

Previous field trials have had no testing done to show what kind of harm that the organism poses. For the Brassica application GE Free NZ and submitters actually presented scientific evidence to show that harm to animals and the ecosystem from the Bt Cry genes had occurred. These had not been presented by the applicant or previously considered by ERMA but were totally discounted.

“If GE Bt plants are killing animals what would be the effect on humans who eat the GE Bt Cabbages, Cauliflower or broccoli or the sheep that eat forage kale? We believe that surely they would carry out testing to ensure these vegetables were safe for humans to eat before they go into 10 years of trials.”

GE Free NZ in food and environment would like to thank our Lawyer Tom Bennion and Imogen Spurdle and all our members and public who have supported us in getting this far.

ENDS:

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842 / Mob: 027 348 6731

Back ground
Crop and Food applied to the ERMA Authority to field test GM Brassica (Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli and forage kale) with insecticide resistant genes isolated from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria. The field test is to be run in the Lincoln Region for 10 years to assess the agronomic performance of the plants and had no adverse testing regime documented. The application and decision on GMF06001 can be found at www.ermanz.govt.nz. A public hearing was held to hear public submissions in Christchurch in April 2007.

The ERMA hearing was initially disrupted as people protested the farcical nature of the process and expressed concern that ERMA would approve the application regardless of submissions. The Brassica hearing cost NGO’s many thousands of dollars to participate. The submitters provided well researched scientific evidence that was not previously included in the application. However key concerns were judged “negligible”.

back to directory