INDEPENDENT NEWS

Public Confidence in ERMA destroyed by decision

Published: Tue 1 Oct 2002 12:18 AM
Public Confidence in ERMA destroyed by decision on GE Cows and plans for "Conditional Release".
It is time for Government to reconsider a Parliamentary Commissioner on Biotechnology to protect the public interest.
ERMA "put on notice" over foreseen contamination from 'Pharming' as New Zealand animals become chemical bio-reactors.
ERMA's response to the Agresearch GE cow application GMD 2028 weakens New Zealand's biosecurity and regulation of biotechnology.
The decision is also likely to be challenged in the courts.
The decision fails to adequately address basic issues of economic and environmental damage, alternative research as suggested by the Royal Commission, scientific containment or issues of culture and ethics.
"The decision needs to be scrutinised, but it seems that ERMA has capitulated to our overseas export-image." says Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.commercial interest over good science and the public interest. This is not a good look for
'The alternatives suggested by the Royal Commission are being ignored. The result is Big business 1, community- imput Nil."
In the light of this decision the Government's review of ERMA must include action to build confidence in the Authority amongst independent scientists and the public before it reaches rockbottom.
ERMA given notice of evidence of foreseeable problems
ERMA's support for "a "Conditional release" category for GM products is a concerning sign that the Authority are in denial of overseas problems with GE release.
"There is sufficient evidence available to show that GE constructs spread unless kept contained. With Pharming now developing -Containment to guarantee segregation from conventional production is the only way to protect Public Health."
"Are ERMA , or Life Sciences companies like AgResearch pretending ignorance of the growing body of evidence as a defence against Liability? There are legal exemptions for damage which is "unforseen""
" New applications of GE have concerned scientists and the wider community putting ERMA on notice," says Mr Carapiet.
"Development of 'Pharming' using GM animals or crops to produce medical-drugs makes it vital that Zero threshold of GM-system contamination in food is achievable. The Minister of Health also has responsibility to ensure this prevention of a significant public health risk." "The public want ERMA to show WHY they believe they can prevent GE contamination when all others failed."
"ERMA's pretence at managing risk is no more credible than a gambler at a casino."

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