GE Free NZ, 22th May  2003

ERMA refuses soil-testing despite plan for more GE sheep 

GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment have concerns that ERMA, (the Environmental Risk Management Authority) are failing to ensure any research into soil contamination and HGT ( Horizontal Gene Transfer) from a flock of GE sheep despite signals that more GE sheep are in the pipeline.

" ERMA seem to be willing to fly blind on the issue of HGT from the  existing trials, making a mockery of the requirement to follow the Precautionary Principle. Closing your eyes and refusing to require scientific studies is not precautionary, it is negligent," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. 

Bas Walker from ERMA has confirmed that no research into HGT from the GE sheep trials has been done, and none is planned. Yet more GE sheep are on there way , with ERMA authorising the expansion of the existing trial some months ago, and new trials may soon be on their way.

GE Free (NZ) is also wondering why PPL is conducting small meetings in the out of the way district of Whakamaru on a new commercial experiment when their experiment on anti-alpha trypsin (hAAT) is in trouble. In 2001 clinical phase II trials were halted with the decision made not to build a $42 million dollar GE milk refining plant due to financial difficulties.

These 'hAAT' animals are out in the open fields defecating and aborting onto the ground and this discharge could leach GE DNA into ground water or be removed by birds and rodents. GE animals are also often sick and suffer a range of diseases like mastitis, arthritis and immune system defects. 

"Monitoring of the hAAT trial has been sloppy with essential tests being overlooked," says Claire Bleakley, who earlier challenged ERMA's approval of GE cows in the courts."Eprex -a GM derived product -has caused the immune systems of patients to produce antibodies that attack the pharmaceutical and the bodies natural protein, causing severe immune breakdown, and leading to severe anaemia," she says. "The cost to the health and environment of New Zealand could run into billions of dollars if a pathogen is created from the shedding of DNA from any genetically modified discharges".

To date no final scientific article has been published on the findings of any genetically modified animal experiment carried out in New Zealand. True records that can be peer reviewed and assessed into the sheep experiment have yet to be presented.

"It is premature and worrying that a small community is being asked to consult on a new human-sheep transgenic experiment (Bile Salt Stimulated Lipase) when the previous experiment is languishing and has shown no successful results.

"ERMA cannot keep approving new experiments on an ad hoc basis until proper scientific rigour has been carried out" said Ms. Bleakley, President of GE Free (NZ), "and that means peer reviewed published results on the hAAT experiment and its problems. Good science is the true understanding of a process not a commercially expedient guess." 

GE Free NZ notes that there are grave misgivings when the species barrier is crossed, especially with the use of cross species and human genetic codes. These experiments make the human -animal barrier crossing of pathogens more likely and could add to existing problems like HIV/AIDS, BSE or CJD .

Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370 

ERMA Annual Reports GMF 98001 (2000,2001 2002)

PPL Annual 2001 report

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