17/11/2009

Application for GE Animals obscures Serious Biosecurity and Animal Welfare threats.

 

The latest AgResearch application to The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for GE animals (ERMA200223) has a mind-boggling 700 page dictionary list of over 20000 different genetic materials sourced from almost every living disease producing organism.

This application is a wish-list of genetic sequences stated as a series of numbers and letters that mean little, but include hidden synthetic DNA and viral particles that in certain combinations could produce virulent diseases. The extensive but ambiguous list creates a serious information gap and a dilemma as to how ERMA, the public and expert submitters will be able to make any valuable risk assessment. Any of these unknown combinations will make it impossible to ensure how New Zealand will be able to remain disease-free and continue to benefit form its current clean green status.

"AgResearch have shown how they are able to manipulate a dictionary of unintelligible information to obscure the enormity of what they are doing as well as re-writing statute," says Claire Bleakley, President of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"The Government Departments who received the application and gave funding for the experiment are responsible to the taxpayers of New Zealand and it is vital that the ventures they support do not undermine our Biosecurity, economic wellbeing, reputation for safety and the Brand equity of New Zealand that has taken years to build."

But despite claims that AgResearch are now taking ethics and animal welfare seriously, the devil is in the detail, and includes the deliberate creation of sick or deformed animals for commercial and research purposes.

AgResearch scientist Dr Suttie is quoted in The Press as saying "Ethics and welfare are important now. They will be vastly important going into the future, so any technology we do have to come up smelling of roses."

Yet previous projects have resulted in hundreds of GMO animals being aborted, dying prematurely and suffering shocking abnormalities such as deformed limbs, organ fusion, kidney malfunction and congenital heart defects, immune-system failure and chronic susceptibility to infection.

"Such deplorable outcomes cannot be part of the New Zealand agricultural and research landscape," says Mrs. Bleakley. "Ethical animal husbandry is imperative to producing quality food that will meet consumer demand around the world and will allow us to build on our investment in the New Zealand brand."

This application (ERMA200223) is intended to deceive by pretending that big business is complying with and respects New Zealand statute. Yet what is being proposed in the application is even more frightening than the AgResearch vision presented in the four stage application declared invalid by the High Court earlier this year.

It is becoming clear that AgResearch, FORST and ERMA are willing to ignore the absence of real benefit to New Zealand and are wasting taxpayers' money in their efforts to hook up with overseas companies, and even to subsidise them at New Zealand's expense. These Government Departments are willing to put many millions of dollars into a GMO pipe dream that to date has failed to produce any results, and puts Brand New Zealand in jeopardy.

"Do our farmers want animals that have a 7% pregnancy success rate or a 90% "slip" rate? Do our farmers want to keep animals that have to live permanently under veterinary care for chronic infection? Do New Zealand food producers want to be responsible for providing products that can cause serious illness in their consumers?"

"The answer has to be no. It is time for an urgent rethink by Government and its Departments about how best to protect and develop our economy and markets that rely on the clean green image and does not include GM animals or plants," says Mrs. Bleakley

This application must be immediately withdrawn and Prime Minister John Key must initiate a cross-Ministerial review of the best way forward for New Zealand science and economic development that protects our existing Brand, rather than destroy it.

Legal advice is being sought as to placing an injunction on the application until an Appeal Case is heard on 25th January.

ENDS:

Claire Bleakley 06-3089842 / 027 348 6731

References:

AgResearch Application ERMA200223, Appendix II, www.ermanz.govt.nz

Fred Pearce New Zealand was a friend to Middle Earth, but it's no friend of the earth. The Guardian, 12/11/ 2009 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2009/nov/12/new-zealand-greenwash accessed: 16/11/09

Tim Cronshaw, Stem cell researchers will soon have the ability to create farm animals, The Press, 14 November 2009

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