ERMA is calling for submissions from the public on a new AgResearch application (ERMA200223) to create genetically engineered sheep, cattle and goats in the outdoor facility at Ruakura, Hamilton.This application seeks to create a range of genetically engineered (GE) animals carrying human unidentified protein genes. The public are being left in the dark about details of the genetic modifications or the products to be developed.
"Without this information public debate about the national implications is impossible. The submissions process becomes a farce when the public don't have details of how GE animals will impact the country as a whole in light of international consumer concern for food saftey and animal welfare," says Jon Carapiet spokesman for GE Free NZ in food and environment.
The new application carries the same flaws as the large four stage application that is under appeal at the Appeal Court to be heard on the 25th January, in relation to the requirements for comprehensive risk assessment, including the risks from the unknown proteins that are to be produced.
“It appears that there is a blatant intention on the part of AgResearch to undermine New Zealand's GE Free status, with callous disregard for the implications for the environment and economy. It should be ringing alarm bells in central government and with food exporters aware of the negative response from consumers overseas,” says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
“It is unbelievable that ERMA has accepted an application that carries the same flaws as the previous 4 stage application that was declared invalid by the High Court. The threat to New Zealand farmers and food exporters is very real, but where is the benefit?” says Mrs. Bleakley.
This application has no apparent benefit to New Zealand as it appears that the intellectual property will be owned by overseas interests like Pharming NV and Genzyme Transgenic Corporation (GTC), both of which have had financial woes in the last few years. In the event of their finacial collapse, as happened with PPL which ran a flock of 3000 GE sheep that had to be destroyed, it will be the taxpayer facing the wind up costs and ongoing potential biosecurity risks of GE-contaminated land.
This application is highly irresponsible and threatens our biosecurity, health and the years of work it has taken to develop New Zealand as a leader in healthy, safe, clean, quality produce.
GE Free NZ will seek a legal opinion concerning an injunction on the application until the Appeal Court hears AgResearch's appeal against the High Court ruling on their previous four applications.
Claire Bleakley 06-30898 / 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
AgResearch makes Application to Permit GM Animals 6 November 2009, 5:05 pm Press Release: AgResearch