05/02/2010

Animal Bio-reactors: An Unacceptable Cost to New Zealand Public

 

Strong public opposition to AgResearch's plans to commercialise GE animals as chemical bio-reactors has prompted over 1500 submissions to ERMA.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority has received 1547 submissions totalling 2886 pages and an index of 27 pages, in response to AgResearch's application to genetically engineer sheep, goats and cows as bio-reactors in a partnership-deal with overseas biotech-companies.

The public's rejection of the plan is not surprising given the Royal Commission on GM specifically recommended against this, following its $6m inquiry. But AgResearch has ignored the Royal Commission, and the concerns of the now-defunct Bio-Ethics Council. The applications now threaten the integrity of New Zealand's primary-production, reputation, environment and community values against cruel and unethical treatment of animals.

Submissions on the wide ranging commercial application (ERMA200223) will be heard in Hamilton on the 1st March. GE-Free NZ has expressed particular concern to ERMA that the application is no less broad and all-encompassing than four previous applications by AgResearch that were declared invalid in the High Court in June 2009. An appeal to the Court of Appeal was heard on the 26th January and a decision awaited.

“The New Zealand public are paying a high price for this misguided push for GE animals as bioreactors. The whole process of hearings, evaluations and assessments will cost the Environmental Risk Management Authority over $110,000, with a small portion carried by AgResearch which also sucks funds from the public purse. This is an exorbitant price to pay on a speculative GE wish-list that has produced no gain to New Zealand, and actualy threatens our economic wellbeing," says Claire Bleakley from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

“Around $300 million has gone into GE experiments over ten years and produced little more than a mausoleum containing hundreds of animals who have died after suffering chronic disease and extreme congenital deformities. This is nothing to be proud of and puts government-funded AgResearch in direct conflict with the New Zealand public, primary producers, exporters, and the wider scientific community who are competing for Research and Development funding for projects that actually serve the national interest," Claire Bleakley says.
ENDS
Claire Bleakley 06-3089842/ 0273486731
Jon Carapiet 0210507681

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