26/10/2009

GE Animal Application decision Gets received for Re-assessment.

 

GE Free is angered over ERMA's rapid approval of an application to genetically engineer (GE) a large range of animals including Cats and Dogs. The application GMD09011 has the same flaws as the four-part applications by AgResearch that a High Court found was outside the law. GE Free NZ has formally had its submission for a Re-assessment received by ERMA who will take one month to consider if the information it contains should be looked at further.

"This major application was approved under low risk regulations in just one week, and has totally cut out public comment,” said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“What is worse it is almost identical to the applications that have been set aside due to the lack of detail required under the HSNO Act.”

GE Free NZ has provided information to ERMA that state the following grounds for re-assessment:

There is no detail, data, organism expression identified, sequenced or characterized, so the gene of interest and vector function cannot be understood. This application generates the potential to create high risk organisms
The identified virus and bacterial constructs used are able to cause serious animal, human and plant diseases and may present a serious hazard to laboratory personnel
There is no way of knowing if the organism being created will cause an increase of disease, virulence or infectivity
There is no protocol around the aerosol droplets, effluents and milks that might be able to escape and there are no disposal or containment protocols in place
Animals and waste product may contain viable cells destined for disposal. Due to the lack of organism description there is no way of assessing the effects from self sustaining populations of the new organism from this laboratory environment or waste products. The applicant does not identify any experimental procedures to be used or seek to define how they will address/test for the nature of the adverse effects they have identified as required under a development.

In June GE Free New Zealand won a precedent setting case against ERMA and AgResearch that sought to genetically modify 18 types of animals: mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens, horses, goats, pigs, sheep, cows, deer and llamas and alpacas. The applications were declared invalid and set aside by Justice Clifford. The decision has been challenged by AgResearch and is to be heard in late January in the Court of Appeal.

"The rapidly approved application has the very flaws raised in the High Court case and found to be outside the law. AgResearch has no right to ride roughshod over New Zealand Law especially as their appeal against the High Court decision is yet to be heard,” said Mrs Bleakley.

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06-3089842 / 027 348 6731

References:

ERMA decision on Application GMD09011 www.ermanz.govt.nz

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