GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment,25th November 2003

ERMA Warned over Inadequate Scientific Monitoring of GE Animals

GE Free NZ in food and environment in concerned that transgenic animal experiments in New Zealand are being undertaken without sufficient knowledge of the constructs being created, or analysis of the effects of cloning.

It has been announced by the CEO of Nexia Biotechnologies Dr. Jeffrey Turner that his US-based company has destroyed 214 genetically modified goats that were modified with a spider silk gene and bred to produce fibre that could be used in sutures and body armour. He admitted that the project was one of the company's "less successful" programs to develop high-strength fibers".

"Are unsuccessful ventures also being conducted at AgResearch? No one is being told of the problems, and insufficient scientific data being collected and published, " says Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

A veil of secrecy appears to be obscuring the reality, the science apparently not being conducted properly, and important research data is being ignored instead of studied. Real risks, and need for caution and monitoring are simply being ignored as "unimportant".

No soil testing has been undertaken at the PPL sheep trial site, and the move to destroy the herd has been criticised for destroying important data in the form of samples that should be taken and studied. Health monitoring of people working with these animals is also being trivialised.

"The second suspected case of a vCJD illness has been notified in Hamilton.(Wed 18th November, Dominion Post). Monitoring should be in place to identify if this is in any way related to AgResearch and transgenic manipulation, but no such monitoring is being done. ERMA is not taking seriously the need to monitor the health of workers involved with these experiments or impacts on the environment," says Ms. Bleakley.

GE Free New Zealand in food and environment believe it is vital the Government, FoRST and ERMA look into gathering data and true scientific evidence from these experiments, given the government's insistence that they be allowed. The threat of a biosecurity breach is becoming more real with every day that such GE experiments continue with inadequate monitoring.

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

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References:

Second Case of CJD in Hamilton notified, Dom Post Wed 12th November 2003 pA5 Company Euthanizes Genetically Modified Goats, Plattsburgh, NY (AP) 11/18/03

Company Euthanizes Genetically Modified Goats

Plattsburgh, NY (AP) 11/18/03 -- The chief executive of a biotechnology company said the company has euthanized 214 genetically modified goats.

CEO Dr. Jeffrey Turner says the goats were involved in one of the company's "less successful" programs to develop high-strength fibers. 

Plattsburgh-based Nexia Biotechnologies uses the milk produced by the spider-gene modified goats to spin lightweight, high-strength fibers. The fibers are being developed for use in body armor and as sutures.
 
Turner says the animals were older and less productive than Nexia's current modified goats. He told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican that under US and Canadian law, the goats have to be euthanized and cannot be sold.

The company's move was criticized by animal-rights activists.

Mary Beth Sweetland of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the company is completely discounting that the goats are living, breathing creatures.

2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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