GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 13th August 2003

Secrecy over GE onions rings alarm bells

Alarm bells are ringing over secrecy surrounding the GE onions, proposed for trialing in New Zealand after ERMA and Crop & Food declined to give information to submitters about the GE constructs. 

This decision makes independent scientific scrutiny impossible, and threatens the standards of decision-making and will further undermine public confidence in the ERMA process. "They are asking the public and independent scientists to fly blind and write in their submissions anyway. Its outrageous nonsense," says Jon Carapiet, for GE Free NZ in food and environment. 

ERMA have declined to supply information on the gene constructs Crop and Food are using in onions genetically engineered to be Round-Up resistant (application open for public submissions until Weds 20th at midnight) The decision disenfranchises people, especially independent scientific advisors and makes them powerless to contribute and improve the system and decision-making.

A representative of ERMA stated "The details of the gene constructs to be used in this application have been provided to ERMA New Zealand in confidence because ERMA was currently bound by confidentiality regarding this information". Recent submissions by leading NZ food manufacturers to the Select Committee considering the " NOOM" bill also raised serious concerns about the impact on their business from secrecy and lack of transparency.

Contact-Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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