GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 21st  February 2004

Mr Bolger too late to save sheep or scientific credibility

Comments by former Prime minister Jim Bolger criticising the wasteful destruction of PPL’s GE sheep are a welcome voice in support of GE Free NZ’s call for research samples to be taken.

Unfortunately his comments come too late to save either the sheep or the credibility of the science supposedly served by the experiments.

It is now some months since GE Free NZ in food and environment made similar calls for proper study of samples taken from these experimental sheep. This followed the statements by Associate Professor Peter Wills from Auckland University that the destruction of the sheep was also the destruction of one of the world’s largest data-resources for studying the actual effects of transgenic experiments.

Mr Bolger is correct that there is a lack of strategic oversight on the kind of research best-suited to New Zealand's cultural values, ethics and market-image.

However, the reality is that many scientists would question whether the creation of these sheep should have been approved in the first place.

What is more concerning is that there has been NO research on the impacts on soil in the fields where the GE sheep are kept, and only now there is a grudging acceptance that huge gaps in research need to be filled.

Even recently ERMA deliberately approved GE onion trial on the basis of scientific knowledge” when there is neither funding for the necessary research nor a clear methodology to deliver real scientific information.

There is growing concern in the scientific community that commercial interests are compromising good science and the lust for profits is furthering unethical and unprofessional conduct.

Recently a New Zealand scientist called for greater freedom to study embryonic stem cells whilst ignoring the more ethical opportunities for researching adult stem-cells to deliver benefits.

The commercial pressure on scientists has prompted international efforts to protect good science from becoming terminally compromised (see below).

“GE Free NZ in food and environment welcomes former prime Minister Bolger’s support for our calls for samples to be taken from the sheep before they are humanely destroyed,” says Jon Carapiet.

The challenge for Mr Bolger and his organization is to prove that they can listen to the community needs and clearly-expressed values supporting a GE-free environment and at the same time deliver genuine scientific benefits to this country rather than compromised pseudo-science that only serves commercial speculators, and undermines good science.”

Contact:  Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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SOURCES:

UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS LAUNCHES URGENT CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE THE INTEGRITY OF SCIENCE IN PUBLIC POLICYMAKING

Across a broad range of public policy issues and on a scale that is unprecedented, the Bush administration is censoring, suppressing and distorting science-based information when it does not meet their agenda. These activities have serious consequences for your health, safety, and environment.

For example:

** Scientific findings on issues from climate change to nuclear weapons are being weakened or omitted in government reports and websites.

** Highly qualified scientists have been dismissed from advisory committees and replaced by industry representatives, while other advisory panels have been dismissed or disbanded entirely.

** The White House is proposing new rules that would bar government-funded researchers from serving as reviewers of the science underlying new regulations, while allowing industry-funded scientists to participate in the peer review process.

This campaign is our top priority and we need your help to make sure it is successful. Without immediate action, abuses of science will continue unchecked. Please make a donation today in support of the Restoring Scientific Integrity campaign and our work to ensure a healthy environment and a safer world.

UCS is leading an ambitious effort to restore the nonpartisan manner in which science has traditionally entered into policymaking
decisions.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?reportID=53009
>
>Bolger attacks GM sheep killing
>NZ HERALD
>19.02.2004
>
>
>New Zealand scientists are on the verge of losing a significant
>scientific resource through the slaughter and incineration of the
>nation's biggest flock of genetically engineered sheep, says former Prime
>Minister Jim
Bolger.
>
>The company has said this protein, refined from GM milk, could be used to
>research treatments for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and acute
>respiratory problems, although a vocal critic of the PPL project, New
>Zealand scientist Robert Mann, told regulators that preliminary trials
>overseas had proved very little.
>- NZPA

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