GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 24th  July 2005

ERMA's Ethics to be Tested by Latest GE Cows

ERMA- The Environmental Risk Management Authority - is currently calling for public comment on its Ethics issues, but at the same time is deliberately excluding public scrutiny of one of the most ethically-contentious GE projects since the Royal Commission.

It is fundamentally wrong for ERMA to allow the latest AgResearch proposal to create a GE Lacto Ferrin supplement to proceed when it runs counter to the key findings of the Royal Commission on GM.

"ERMA is still working on its Ethic's framework and it is disgraceful that the Public is being cut out of assessing the AgResearch deal," says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

GE Free believes this trial is a new and commercial development involving imported genetically modified embryo’s into containment from Dutch company Pharming through an IBSC approval. For ethical reasons alone it should be publicly notified.

But it appears likely there will be an attempt to give automatic approval and that the Lacto Ferrin experiment will not be open for public comment due to a loop hole in the ERMA process.

"It is concerning that this loophole is being used to pass a project when there is no CEO at ERMA and we are hoping that ERMA will make sure that this is the first thing he will address when he arrives at his job on August 1st " Claire Bleakley says.

This experiment will not add to any scientific knowledge on GE as the embryo’s are being imported. But the costs could be high given past failures showing animals do not carry through stable genetic traits.

ERMA must weigh up the ethics of allowing the approval to go ahead as well as the potential cost to each New Zealander. The cost to the country per GE cow carrying the Myelin Basic Protein is estimated at around $11 million. Lactoferrin has also been found to have adverse effects in trials causing severe problems with asthma with fatal outcomes.

The fact is that if the product does not make it to market AgResearch could even collapse. The Taxpayer will bear the cost and farmers will loose the agricultural gains that AgResearch has built for them over the years.

"Given the ethical and economic issues and that ERMA's Ethics Advisory Panel is still in public consultation on a framework- this plan should not even be considered at the ERMA level. It should be stopped at the pre application stage and should be called in by the Minister before it goes any further".


Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842


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Tryptophan summary (John B. Fagan, PH.D)

The Japanese company Showa Denko produced L-Tryptophan using bacteria which were genetically modified to dramatically increase the yield of this amino acid supplement. The GE process resulted not only in an over-production of the amino acid, but also an over-production of over 60 toxic compounds normally produced in negligible amounts by the bacteria. This resulted in the death of 36 people and approximately 1500 more have been permanently maimed. Showa Denko has admitted liability and has duly paid compensation to survivors.

National Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome Network

Does v. Showa Denko of Japan, et al.

Weaver S. & Morris M., 2005 Risks associated with Genetic Modification: an annotated bibliography of peer reviewed natural science publications. Journal of agricultural and environmental ethics, 18: 157-189.

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