GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 2nd August  2003

Audit vindicates public's lack of confidence in ERMA's regulation of GE.

An independent review of ERMA - the Environmental Risk Management Authority- has vindicated community concerns raised over recent years about the authority's ability to manage the risks of GE as it claims to be doing. But there are no quick-fix solutions that can address the issues before the GE moratorium is due to lapse, and the moratorium clearly needs to be extended if a disastrous breakdown in the system is to be prevented.

The report adds new evidence supporting the extension of the moratorium on  GE applications. The public have been shown to be correct in not placing blind trust in organizations like ERMA and MAF.

The government must be warned that an attempt at a "quick fix" to solve the major issue identified in the report is doomed to fail. Fundamental flaws in the system need to be addressed to protect the national interest.

The report confirms that ERMA has poor oversight of GE trials just as GE Free NZ in food and environment has said. For example, there has been no research on the impact of GE sheep trials on soil and there has been no move to use special fencing to exclude birds or small animals from trial sites as a basic and obvious precaution.

The report also highlights serious gaps in ERMA's ability to deal with the range of issues it is supposed to administer under the HSNO act. In particular the lack of ecological, strategic, social science expertise and ethical perspectives has alarmed independent scientists and the community as it has led to ERMA compromising the Precautionary Principle.

" ERMA is shown to be in no position to look after the national interest if the moratorium on GE releases is allowed to lapse and is not replaced," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. 

The public of New Zealand need legislation that requires ERMA to protect our environment from GE contamination and requires them to act as guardians for the supply of GE-free food.

It is now the responsibility of MP's passing the New Organisms and Other Matters Bill to ensure this happens.

Jon Carapiet 09 815 370

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