GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 15th July  2003

Biotech industry wrong to seek ERMA judgment on Safety of GE onions

The Biotech industry are wrong to call for ERMA to adjudicate on the health impacts of GE onions and other GE foods already entering New Zealand.

ERMA are not responsible for testing GE foods or assessing the safety of GE products for human health. The issues raised concerning the soil-bacteria used for transfection of the new genes into the onions, and the impact of increased chemical residues in food have yet to be properly studied.

It is wrong to push for more GE field trials when there are yawning gaps in the basic data required and obtainable from fully-contained lab-experiments.

The investment in a product for which there is no market is also deeply flawed when investment in alternative research for improving organic production of onions has a clear and tangible benefit for New Zealand's exports.

The application for a field trial should be withdrawn until this "missing data" is produced and peer-reviewed. Before a field trial is applied for, Food Safety Authorities and ERMA need to have more information: what is the impact on soil biota from lab-experiments?, what is the impact on human health from the bacteria vector?, what is the impact of up to 200 times more chemical residue in human food, especially on children and the elderly?

Contact Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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Life Sciences Network Media release
New Zealand News > Make a case to ERMA on GE onions, GE-Free NZ!

Claims that GE onions will have negative health effects should be submitted to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) along with the detailed scientific studies which support the assertions, the Chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston, said today.

�ERMA has been specially established to examine the risks to human health posed by proposals to genetically engineer plants. Opponents of the technology have the opportunity to make their case to ERMA and to present the science which supports their allegations.

�The science quoted in their statement arguing for the application to be withdrawn is either very dated or quotes studies which have been subsequently challenged. It will be inte! resting if new, more relevant, science can be presented at the hearing.

�Rather than calling for the application for a field test to be withdrawn the appropriate thing to do is make your case for approval not to be granted. Much of the information which will determine whether or not these onions become a commercial reality will be determined by the field tests, that is what they are for,� concluded Dr Rolleston.

GE onions application should be withdrawn - GE Free NZ
Source: LSN Media Release 14 July 2003

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