GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 16th October 2003

Scientist says destruction of GE sheep a national scandal

An Auckland-based scientist has made an urgent plea for further research on thousands of GE sheep about to be destroyed because the company that
owns them has gone bankrupt.

The GE sheep in Whakamaru are owned by PPL, and have been genetically engineered to produce a human protein in the milk.

They are set to be destroyed, but scientist Dr Peter Wills says the large number of animals presents a unique opportunity, and that samples from the sheep should be taken and studied.

Dr Wills says "samples of the liver, blood, lung, and brain of every sheep should be preserved for future investigation. It is doubtful whether there will be another opportunity in the next decade to obtain samples from such a large sample of individuals from the same transgenic population."

Dr Wills says the statistical significance of such research " has only been dreamed of" by scientists.

" The waste of this opportunity is a national scandal," he says.

The government has claimed to want such research for "scientific knowledge" but having already got their wish- in the form of a massive flock of GE sheep- they are now letting that information literally "go up in smoke."

The misguided belief within the government that they are ready to deal with the GE issue, is being proven to be wrong with one of New Zealand's longest running GE trials.

It appears that neither ERMA, or the Ministers involved have any power or the will to undertake proper scientific studies of the sheep.

" Humane treatment of these animals has been one concern, but the lack of credible scientific research is an outrage. ERMA admit, after five years, that there has not even been testing of the soil to examine possible effects," says Jon Carapiet, from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

"This refusal by commercial outfits, and regulatory authorities to study the effects of their GE experiments is exactly why people do not trust the New Zealand government or ERMA to protect the national interest."

Contact Jon Carapiet- 09 815 3370

Commentary By Peter Wills on New GE legislation :
"The government should act immediately to ensure that the unique scientific resource of GE sheep in the Waikato is not destroyed".

Contact: Peter R Wills, BSc, PhD, Department of Physics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland; email; tel:
64-9-373 7599 ext 88889; fax: 64-9-373 7445.

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