07/01/2011

Innovation Must Not Conflict With New Zealand GE Free Values

 

There are serious concerns of a conflict of interest emerging in the Government's push for innovation in science and technology, and the importance of protecting New Zealand's Brand image.

The conflict has been heightened by the appointment of Dr William Rolleston of the Life Sciences Network as chairmen of the new Ministry of Science and Innovation.

The move puts New Zealand's brand reputation on the line, and will unfairly bias investment towards Genetic Engineering in the agricultural and pharming sectors.

"There is a conflict of interest between Dr Rolleston's own commercial investment in GE, and the fact that the national interest is best served by research into non-GE biotechnology, organic and ethical production," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"This is the wrong direction for New Zealand. GE outside the lab increases the risk of environmental contamination and increased suffering from extreme animal experimentation."

Dr Rolleston will head up an organisation that is meant to ensure that New Zealand businesses are innovative, internationally competitive and contribute to economic growth. New Zealand's Brand Image is central to this. However Dr Rolleston has been a leading advocate of The Life Science Network (LSN) that believes in aggressive commercialisation of GE, and enforced thresholds of 'acceptable GE contamination' in crops. The LSN organisation also opposes holding users of GE organisms liable for the damage they cause.

“The appointment of Dr. Rolleston signals the move to embed genetic engineering into New Zealand. This raises major ethical questions around conflict of interest and revolving door politics," says Claire Bleakley, from GE Free New Zealand.

"GE is a failing technology and it looks as if New Zealand is being pressured by major trading countries to accept the technology. It is vital to protect the economic benefits of New Zealand's reputation for GE-free, natural, organic and sustainable production. The appointment of Dr Rolleston is a risk to New Zealand's future, especially in the light of the US discussions aimed at removing genetic engineering obstacles so that free trade deals can proceed."

Overseas use of GE organisms in crops has increased weed resistance, and animals fed on GE foods experience health effects including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in the gastrointestinal system.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine is so concerned over the animal feeding studies it has asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.

“The fact is GE technology cannot co exist without polluting other farming systems and reliance on GE for economic growth will become another idealistic myth. We cannot allow our food supply or environment to become our poison,” says Claire Bleakley.

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731

References:

Wayne Mapp: Boards Key To Science And Innovation Success, 5/1/2011, http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/wayne-mapp-boards-key-science-and-innovation-success/5/77660

de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726. Available from http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality http://responsibletechnology.org/article-gmo-soy-linked-to-sterility

Institute of Responsible Technology, http://responsibletechnology.org/

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), May 8, 2009, http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html

www.gefree.org.nz



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