10/03/2009

Biotech Animals Case Goes to High Court

 

The High Court case taken by GE Free NZ in food and environment against the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) and AgResearch a Crown Research Institute (CRI) is being heard on Monday 9th March, 2009.

GE Free NZ took the action after AgResearch made a series of four applications that seek to develop, import and commercialise genetically modified animals from nine species of animals (alpacas, buffalo, cows, deer, goats, horses and donkeys, sheep, pigs). The generic applications seek approval at any location and for an indefinite period to allow commercial production of biopharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and diseased animals for research.

“These four generic applications seek the right to commercialise unspecified GE animals as bio factories anyway, anywhere, anytime, anyplace that could be profitable. They are so broad that they make it impossible for people to know if and how they will be affected now or in the future”. said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“Previous applications for genetic modification have been continually stretching all the statutory boundaries. The international best-practice approach of case-by-case risk assessment is being abandoned. Applications are getting broader with no ability to know what kind of risk may result,” said Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

To date the trials on GE animals in New Zealand have been plagued with deformities, as well as sudden death from congenital heart and organ failure. Early abortions are common with many foetuses suffering from excessive abdominal fluid (hydrops) resulting in a very low to zero birth rate.

New Zealand has been exposed to the commercial risks of the 9-year GE sheep trial conducted by Scottish company PPL in which some 3000 GE animals had to be destroyed after the product failed in clinical trials and caused severe immune reactions in human subjects.

GE Free NZ believes that these applications are so universal in scope and lacking in detail that it is impossible to reasonably assess the risks. New Zealand farmers, food producers, exporters and concerned members of the public are unable to make a submission on how they will be impacted- for better or for worse.

The case being taken before the High Court seeks for all the applications to be withdrawn by ERMA and returned to the applicant.

ENDS:
Jon Carapiet 021 0507681

Claire Bleakley 06-3089842 027 348 6731

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