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

Veil of Secrecy for GE Constructs Prompts Ombudsman Appeal

GE Free New Zealand (in food and environment) is to appeal to the ombudsman after ERMA - the Environmental Risk Management Authority-
refused an Official Information Act request to identify the gene constructs used in an application for GE onions.

In a letter rejecting the request ERMA have cited the information would both 'unreasonably prejudice' and 'damage' the commercial position of
Seminis Seeds and Crop and Food.

But GE Free New Zealand is concerned that ERMA have seen fit not to allow this information to be released in the public interest when international research has revealed genetic constructs used in commercial crops have fragmented and recombined.

Instead ERMA are unfairly allowing corporate interests to make the rules and are keeping hidden information that is vital for independent scientists to contribute advice.

"We are worried that ERMA are setting a precedent with this veil of secrecy in the face of alarming new findings of genetic instability", says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

It is deeply concerning that ERMA will be the only body 'in the know' about gene constructs to be used in the New Zealand environment in future.

The decision must be appealed to the ombudsman or it will create a situation where no independent scientific advice or viewpoints will be taken into account.

Since ERMA are a quasi judicial body that cannot be held responsible for their decisions under the law GE Free New Zealand feel this is wholly

The whole basis of patenting and approving GE organisms is dependent on specified gene maps, but these are now being found to have changed from the original after release. The discovery indicates an intrinsic instability that calls into question the validity of both the science used to develop and approve the organism and the patents.

Biotech companies know that these crops are unstable and without transparency and openness from ERMA companies will find it easier to hide
the fact.

Once again the promises made by government about the "new improved" ERMA process are being revealed to be part of a regulatory sham designed to promote biotech commercial interests over those of the public and sound peer-reviewed science.

"We have no option but to appeal to the ombudsman against ERMA's secrecy," says Mr Carapiet.

Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

See  also Transgenic lines proven unstable  by Mae-Wan Ho, ISIS Report, 23 October 2003


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