24/03/2010

Decision on GE Animals Must Go To Supreme Court

 

A decision upholding AgResearch appeal against a High Court ruling could destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s economy by opening the floodgates for GE animals in New Zealand. The prospect of ERMA approvals for GE animals “indefinitely and anywhere” is unacceptable to most New Zealander's and requires an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We believe Judge Clifford’s decision to set aside AgResearch applications was logical and fair and identified the errors of such broad GM applications,” said Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“The appeal court decision nullifies this and means ERMA is free to accept applications from anyone to modify an animal with any genetic trait, in any way, anytime and forever. This cannot have been the intention of Parliament.”

The ERMA process is a costly one and extreme applications that are not possible to reasonably approve are a waste of taxpayer’s money. We fully support Judge Clifford's logical conclusion that a minimum standard requiring GM organisms to be identified is paramount for an application.

Judge Clifford found the applications were not limited to any specific geographical location, and were also sought for an unlimited duration. AgResearch could use any technique available, now or in the future, to effect such genetic modification and could do so using genetic material from the specified livestock, small animals, humans and monkeys.

The Appeal court said:

“There is no doubt that the generic nature of the application in this case provides particular challenges to ERMA. But we do not think it would be helpful for this Court to attempt any guidance at this stage of the ERMA process. All we need to say for present purposes is that, in order to give approval to the applications, ERMA will have to be satisfied that they are applications to which approval can be given under the powers provided to ERMA under s 45 (that is, they are, in fact applications within s 40(1)) and that the threshold for approval under the s 45 test is met” (60)

This leaves ERMA holding a hot potato; the Appeal decision requires ERMA to be certain that the application’s are capable of approval under section 45. However, independent scientific evidence provided to ERMA has shown that this is not possible.

GE Free NZ will be seeking advice about Supreme Court action.

ENDS
Claire Bleakley 06-3089842 /027 3486731
Jon Carapiet

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