'New Zealand as we know it' will be lost as ERMA’s acceptance of the AgResearch applications to commercialise GE animals puts the country on a countdown to destruction.
If approved the applications will result in the loss of the shared values and hopes of New Zealanders who will discover their vision of a clean, green, natural and GE-free country has been sacrificed to the self-interest of biotechnology speculators promoting the use of transgenic animals as "core business; only in New Zealand".
The AgResearch applications, which close for public comment on the 31st October, seek to genetically modify nine animal species – cows, sheep, goats, deer, alpaca, llama, buffalo, pigs and horse; introducing a range of human, animal genes mixed with an undefined number of viral vectors for an unlimited time in different regions across the country. They position their commercial venture as "world first" and cutting-edge and say eventually products will be destined for the food chain.
"There is a real risk that within a few years New Zealanders will discover the very things most people love about this country have been sold out by stealth," said Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
“The irresponsible and deceptive nature of AgResearch's applications contravene legislation intended to prevent risks to our people, environment and economy, and open up New Zealand to a disaster” she said. “The applicant openly admits it's actions will end our GE-Free status but they will also terminate risk-free and safe farming in our country.”
The lack of any published data on the adverse effects of the GM constructs in previous projects show that the AgResearch plans are just a glorified business transaction and the only time they will properly test for safety is when they are forced to see if a product can be sold.
However their plans for transgenic animals to be farmed around the country mean that when problems emerge, contamination may have already had years to impact New Zealand's soil biota and environment. AgResearch openly declares that the risk of new human, animal, and soil diseases are unknown, yet they want to farm animals around the country, without first doing the requisite testing into the effects.
The products they are creating are also an economic and human risk. No milk from transgenic animals has ever been approved for public commercial use; and the claimed 'medical-breakthrough product' ATryn has just finished its stage II clinical trials. Previous GM sheep milk trials conducted in New Zealand by PPL resulted in virtual bankruptcy after the failure of the milk in clinical phase III trials. The product caused severe immune reactions and respiratory distress (anaphylaxis).
“The cavalier attitude of researchers who are not willing to do the science is unfortunately driven by the need to commercialize GMO’s” said Claire Bleakley. “The AgResearch applications aim at emotional blackmail and put unreasonable pressure on the government and ERMA to approve and fast track genetic engineered organisms that have never been created in nature over millennia.”
The applicant's slick under-playing of the need to provide vital scientific data and deliberate refusal to provide information for public assessment directly contravenes the laws of New Zealand.
What little information is publicly available includes the fact that previous research done at Ruakura, and funded by Foundation of Research and Technology NZ, found 50% of pregnant surrogate cows carrying transgenic embryos were subject to leakage of transgenic-specific sequences across the placenta.
“The scenario is cause for alarm as cells could be shed through effluent, skin and blood products allowing totally new transformations and mutations to occur. Why was this not presented to the public?” said Claire Bleakley.
It appears that ERMA is complicit in trying to turn a blind eye to significant data as to adverse effects of GM. ERMA has never declined and application once it has been notified. They accept the industry line and findings but choose to repeatedly dismiss the public’s and independent scientists' submissions. ERMA has let down the public in accepting an ill-defined and dishonest portrayal of the facts in the applications. This is a disservice to the public and sets New Zealand on a dangerous path to the destruction of our national image and community values. The applications must be withdrawn.
Claire Bleakley – (06) 3089842 /027 348 6731
AgResearch Applications GMD07074 and GMF 07001 (www.ermanz.govt.nz)
Turin L., Invernizzi P, Woodcock M., Grati F., Riva F., Tribboli G., Laible G., (2007) Bovine fetal microchimerism in normal and embryo transfer pregnancies and its implication for biotechnology applications in cattle. Biotechnology Journal 2 486 491
Fetal cells and DNA have been detected in the maternal circulation during and after pregnancy in a few mammalian species. The incidence of similar microchimerism in cattle could have repercussion for the application of modern biotechnologies such as the transfer of transgenic embryos. To determine if feto-maternal leakage can occur in pregnant cows, we have analyzed maternal blood samples for the presence of fetal DNA during gestation and post-partum periods. Y chromosome-specific DNA was detected in up to 73% of blood samples from naturally mated heifers carrying conventional bull calves and a transgene-specific sequence in up to 50% of recipient cows carrying transgenic fetuses. These findings document for the first time that transplacental leakage of fetal DNA into the maternal circulation can occur in cattle despite the epitheliochorial placenta of ruminants, with potential implications for the utilization of recipient cows in the food chain.
27 Feb 2008 Last Patient Enrolled In ATryn(R) Pivotal Study http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/98728.php