GE Free NZ, 26th June  2003

ERMA approval could cost the taxpayers millions in clean-up costs.

If PPL goes bankrupt New Zealand could well find itself the new owners of the PPL facility. The clean up would cost the taxpayers millions. The Minister for the Environment stated yesterday "Someone will manage those sheep, be they the receiver, the owner, or the new owner".

How will the disposal of 4600 sheep of which over 3000 are transgenic animals be achieved? Will they end up in the food supply? There is a danger some sheep may enter the food chain, this must not happen. All sheep both transgenic and non transgenic in the facility must be humanely euthanased.

The facility at Whakamaru should now be considered an illegal facility since PPL's experiment has been shelved. ERMA originally illegally approved a manufacturing flock, whose milk was intended for pharmaceutical use, before going through the scientific rigour of field trials into the environmental effects of the animals. Seven years on clinical trials have now failed, there have been no studies on the flock and as a result there is a danger to New Zealand's biosecurity.

A recent report on the deaths of vultures due to veterinary poisons, indicates similar dangers from GE material removed from the fields by rodents and birds. The disposal of carcasses in offal pits will lead to leaching of GE material into ground water and soil and hot spots could occur creating recombined transgenic pathogens.

"GE Free asks that ERMA and Animal ethics committees look into existing animal controls and places the animals into indoor containment and that ERMA do not allow the size of transgenic herds/flocks to grow until there are published studies into their safety". said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ

"ERMAs hurry to cut corners and therefore costs for approval of GE trials highlights the problem of the quasi judiciary bodies lack of proper regulation and relevant scientific research" said Ms Bleakley" Until the reasons for the failure of clinical trials are given, and there is a full understanding of HGT, animal health, and environmental health, ERMA cannot
approve any more trials. The Minister must be ready to call them in if they are submitted."

"Alternative methods of medicine production must be examined first, the hype surrounding the potential of unproven new medical techniques avoided to prevent further disappointment to families, this event must never occur again."

The possibility of the failure of the GE business was never considered as ERMA's responsibility, yet the race to label GE activists as terrorists rather than concerned members of the public has been fuelled by pro biotech interests. It is time that those voicing public concerns were heard and those solely promoting commerce dismissed.

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842
Jon Carapiet (09) 815 3370

References
Cow painkiller may be toxic to scavenging birds. http://info.nature.com/cgi-bin24/DM/y/e4J0Bf6ej0C30B7c0AK

Parliament transcripts 25/6/03 Genetic Modification—Sheep, PPL Therapeutics, Waikato

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