GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment,7th July  2003

ERMA expertise and independent risk assessment lacking

GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment supports the reasons for the MAdGE (Mothers against genetic engineering) challenge to the AgResearch transgenic cow approval case, despite the decision finding that the Environmental Risk Management Authority ERMA acted in accordance with the law.

Both this case and the ERMA review demonstrate that all approvals are deficient and that expertise and independent risk assessment, required to properly deal with the issues, is lacking. GE Free NZ have always had concerns over GE approvals and will continue to ask the Minister to call in this particular application.

"The court decision and the critical review of government regulatory body ERMA, together with the concerns of the BERL report findings appear to point to government inability to safely implement its GE policy," says Claire Bleakley from GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment.

The failure of government to implement 43 key recommendations of the cervical screening programme over the last two years indicate that the 49 key recommendations on GE issues in the ERMA review will almost certainly not be in place by October.

GE Free New Zealand consider there is a need for government to extend the moratorium for another five years until all issues to do with segregation, liability and the recommendations from the ERMA review have been put in place and public, and environmental safety issues and economic concerns have been fully addressed.

'New Zealands' primary production exports, its' disease free status the key to our booming economy, will be compromised by unscientific decisions made by ERMA. We cannot afford to allow sloppy monitoring, breaches of containment and contaminated produce to mar this, " said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) " ERMA's interpretation of the Act has already resulted in two important GE court cases. If ERMA cannot address the few issues issuing from the first court case in two years, how will they be able to deal with 49 recommendations in 4 months?" 

For more info: Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370,  Claire Bleakley 06 308 9842

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