GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 24th May 2006

Cancer- causing GE Therapies Signal Urgent Need for Diagnostic Tools

Animal studies have shown that a form of gene therapy, previously believed to be successful, has actually caused cancer. This indicates that tests evaluating the impact of genetic engineering (GE) techniques on people are essential.

The latest findings show that scientists do not yet understand the full complexities of gene function and regulation and that GE foods as well as medicines may cause unexpected harm.

"New diagnostic tools are urgently needed so that medical professionals can identify whether an illness is being caused by genetic alterations made to food or as part of gene-based therapy," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

The discovery that GE medicines may also cause harm, including creating cancer, is regarded as a call for greater scrutiny of the widely used, but uncontrolled use of GE technology on populations around the world.

A GE drug which was trialled in the UK earlier this year caused horrific responses in the test 'patients' and almost caused the death of a young New Zealander. Yet the drug manufacturers and regulatory authorities have said very little about the drug being a product of genetic engineering.

"Doctors are also being left in the dark about the possible impact of GE foods that may have been consumed. This gap should have been closed years ago, given that government officials are allowing GE food into the food chain," says Mrs. Bleakley. "But shamefully, it has not been closed."

GE medicines are bound by a regulations much stricter than those controlling GE food. "This should be of great concern to the officials and politicians who have allowed GE ingredients into everything from babyfood to tampons," said Ms Bleakley. "It is a scandal only now coming to light that this has taken place without proper testing, tracking or diagnostic tools to limit the long-term harm that genetic engineering technology could be causing."

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842, 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

Reference: Mouse study reveals human X-SCID gene therapy poses substantial cancer risk
SOURCE: Salk Institute, USA

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