An expert scientific panel for the Supreme Court of India has recommended a moratorium on GM field trials in India, citing conflicts of interest and lack of safety testing that New Zealand authorities have already been warned about but ignored. (1)
The Supreme Court's Technical Expert Panel of scientists from top public research laboratories and academic institutions found major gaps in their regulatory system that have been the subject of warnings in submissions by New Zealand scientists. (2)
"These fundamental issues have been repeatedly rejected by officials and government ministers, but warrant a restoration of the moratorium on GM release," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).
"The backing for a GM moratorium in India is a call to authorities around the world to address the flaws in their local systems. Until that happens we need to reinstate the GM moratorium that has previously protected New Zealand."
"Independent scientists have advised precaution, and local councils want to hold GMO users strictly liable, but both are being blocked by central government who will change the RMA and who support GM release."
Exporter groups such as Pure Hawkes Bay, organic producers, and major companies like Goodman Fielder, Zespri and Heinz Watties are looking down the barrel of a gun because of the government's attempt to 'pick winners' and allow release of GMOs to serve the biotechnology sector.
The expert panel in India says that long term and inter-generational feeding studies in rodents need to be added to the applications for all products. It says all biosafety data for GM foods should be reexamined.
"These recommendations support a petition that has been tabled in the NZ Parliament asking the government to freeze all new applications and reassess all the existing GE foods using long term feeding studies," says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ.
"We now have strong evidence of harm from the ingestion of GE foods in animal studies but our regulators are still ignoring these results and approving GE foods without any safety testing on the whole food."
Nor does New Zealand apply the range of expertise required for proper regulation that the expert panel says is needed: a regulatory body should have expert groups in health (human and animal), environment and ecology, agro-economics and socio-economics, molecular biology, soil science and microbiology, plant biology and regulatory toxicology, and more.
"Instead New Zealand authorities are moving in the opposite direction with a policy to reject independent scientific advice and cross-disciplinary research. They refuse to conduct safety testing and favour accepting industry data," says Jon Carapiet.
"Even the Bio-Ethics Council has been closed down."
The influence of vested interests is warping the country away from what is needed to build New Zealand's clean, green, ethical and sustainable brand.
1) Indefinite moratorium on GM field trials recommended
Down To Earth (India), July 22 2013
2) Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility www.psgr.org.nz
Letters to the Prime Minister, Ministers, Mayors, Councilors, and Regulators
Jon Carapiet National spokesman 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842/ 0273486731 President of GE Free NZ