27/04/2016

Breach by EPA and AgResearch on GE Animal Experiments

 

The Honourable Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation, opened the NZ Scientists Conference at Te Papa saying it was important that sufficient data be provided to allow a Minister to evaluate the effectiveness of research and the publication of an annual report was a “big step forward”. Yet, AgResearch has failed to submit its annual report on the contentious field trials of genetically engineered (GE) goats and cows, which have cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. [1]

"We consider this a grievous oversight by the EPA," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ. "AgResearch's failure to submit the required annual report by the 31 August 2015, is a blatant refusal to follow the mandated safety conditions that ensure oversight, transparency and accountability. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has also failed in its responsibility to ensure the reporting requirements on GE animal experiments have been met".

It is the EPA's responsibility to keep watch on all GE experiments and to receive comprehensive information, available to the public, on any animal deformities, mortality, blood, milk and carcass disposal results.[2] The EPA's CEO, Dr. Freeth, admits that there has been no approval given for this control to be removed. [3]

"The legal requirements are clear, so why does the EPA not hold the 2014-15 Annual report? Why has the EPA allowed AgResearch to avoid submitting the required annual report? Who will be held to account for the failure to maintain oversight of these contentious animal experiments?" said Ms. Bleakley.

Inadequate oversight allowing the breach of conditions by AgResearch demonstrates to the public that the EPA is unwilling to enforce its controls and lacks the will to carry out its obligations and its duty under the Act. This shows the central government regulators lack the understanding of the dangers posed to communities in the regions.

The public interest in these experiments is high. A damning report by GE Free NZ on the deformities and deaths attributable to these trials over the last 15 years has been widely read. [4]

“EPA's failure to hold the required the comprehensive information is astounding and unacceptable and must not be kept secret. How are we to know if any adverse event has occurred, or any GE material escaped into the surrounding land? This error highlights how important it is for councils to be able to place precautions around GE use in their regions,” said Mrs. Bleakley.

GE Free NZ has submitted a request for this serious breach to be investigated.

References:
[1] Official Information Act (OIA) received 13.10.2015 http://goo.gl/IpvXtM
[2] ERMA200223 Decision, control 11, p. 43 http://goo.gl/9l7R0P
[3] Reply Dr. Freeth 22.4.2016 http://goo.gl/WYyrnw
[4] GE animals; The First Fifteen Years http://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/pdf/GE-Animals-in-New-Zealand.pdf

ENDS
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842

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