August 2010


Crown entity 'cowboys' irk GE opponents



Lindy Laird Monday 23rd August 2010

A spokesperson for GE Free Northland says state-owned "cowboys" with a bad track record are trying to ride roughshod over a Northland council.

Zelka Grammer has voiced her concerns after the crown research institute Plant and Food Research lodged an "11th hour" cross-submission to the Kaipara District Council's District Plan.

Plant and Food's submission argued that a district council should not be involved in decision-making about GE.

It also described as "invalid" the local submissions calling for GE policy to be written into the district plan.

Plant and Food's timing gave parties who had made submissions on the topic no time to lodge cross submissions.

Local submissions asked for the existing precautionary GE policy be set in law, and for liability for any problems caused by GE experiments to fall on the applicants. Kaipara's precautionary GE policy is already in the council's 2009/19 Long Term Council Community Plan (TCCP) and Annual Plan 2010/ll.

Ms Grammer said Plant and Food's last-minute cross submission was both inappropriate and misleading.

"A New Zealand crown research institute with such an appalling track record of botched GE experiments should understand full well why local authorities are considering putting in place additional safeguards against genetically modified organisms," she said.


National News

Lab errors leads to GE leak


By David Fisher

4:00 AM Sunday Aug 1, 2010


Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

A probe into the escape of genetically engineered plants from a government laboratory found scientists had left routes open.

Scientists also washed out their high-security specialist containment laboratory with water that was flushed straight into the storm water system.

Details of a criminal investigation into a GE breach at a Plant and Food Research glasshouse laboratory are exposed in papers released under the Official Information Act.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry documents describe a slew of failures and oversights by the government agencies charged with overseeing New Zealand GE laws.

The errors were made by the Environmental Risk and Management Authority, charged with allowing the importation and use of GE material; Plant and Food Research; and MAF, which audits the controls.

The investigation by MAF's enforcement unit was launched after GE cress plants (arabidopsis thaliana) were found growing outside a supposedly secure glasshouse.

The glasshouse was on Lincoln University property in Christchurch but leased out to Plant and Food Research for its experiments.

A senior staff member followed protocols and alerted MAF after the cress leak.