New Zealand

Comvita adds voice to GE trials caution

Comvita adds voice to GE trials caution

By John Cousins      Bay of Plenty Times

8:30 AM Friday Nov 29, 2013 
  •   www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11164655
Cultural consultant Buddy Mikaere is standing for a tougher council stance on genetic engineering. Cultural consultant Buddy Mikaere is standing for a tougher council stance on genetic engineering.

One of the Bay's biggest exporters Comvita has backed moves to single out genetic engineering as deserving a "precautionary approach" by the region's environmental watchdog.

The Paengaroa-based company joined seven others in the Environment Court yesterday to fight a bid by the New Zealand Forest Research Institute (Scion) to stop the the Bay of Plenty Regional Council adopting a cautionary stance toward GE field trials.

Comvita, whose honey exports of $80 million rely on New Zealand's clean green image, has highlighted the huge financial impact if a GE organism was released into the environment.

Scientists, activists, orchardists, organic farmers and Maori culture united to support the council which wants to signal its concern about the risks from genetic modification trials in its regional policy statement.

Scion has challenged the validity of the council singling out genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as warranting a precautionary approach.

But the council stopped short of elevating GMOs to a "matter of significance" which would have had a flow-on effect into its planning documents by the introduction of specific rules.

GM stance deepens divisions

"GM stance deepens divisions" 
by Jamie Ball
STRAIGHT FURROW   10 September 2013     (front page)

Federated Farmers of NZ is "clearly out of touch with markets" in their opposition to councils' plans to introduce tighter regulation for genetically modified organisms, says Pure Hawke's Bay (PHB) spokesman Bruno Chambers.

Mr. Chambers said the PHB coalition of regional food producers seeking to improve the region's global reputation for safe, sustainable, high quality food production had proposed securing GM free food producer status through local authority planning, for l0 years.

"We had a meeting with the President, Bruce Wills, who said that Federated Farmers would not stand in the way of the Pure Hawke's Bay initiative, so it surprises me that Federated Farmers are taking the position they have."

"They are basically out of touch with the markets. NZ relies on premium markets- our future is not with low-price commodity markets," he said.

Environment Minister Amy Adams recently announced that hazardous substances and new organisms were comprehensively regulated on a national basis and councils should not use the Resource Management Act (RMA) to set up their own independent regulatory frameworks.

However, like some other regions, the Hawke's Bay coalition believes that the Environmental Protection Authority has no mandate to protect regions, regional rands or regional returns.

Mr. Chambers said it was a pity that the federation's representative on the subject, Wililam Rolleston, was entrenched in an ideological position.

Communities want 'stricter' GE controls

hurrah for Lawrence Yule, President of Local Government NZ and Mayor of Hastings  District Council, and Mayor Phil Halse of Whangarei District Council, standing up for democracy...the rights of local existing non GM farmers and other ratepayers

(link to Lois Williams RADIO NZ piece that ran last Friday and on Monday morning- brilliant comments by our Deputy Mayor Phil Halse, telling rookie Minister "for" the Environment Amy Adams to pull her head in and have a wee chat to former Minister Nick Smith!

GE Free Northland putting out a Press Release later today, praising the work of our local councils to create an additional tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs (on top of what the HSNO Act requires).

www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/138819/communities-want-%27stricter%27-ge-controls

Communities want 'stricter' GE controls

Updated at 9:59 pm on 28 June 2013

Local Government New Zealand says communities are asking for stricter controls on genetically-engineered material than those set by central government.

Lawrence Yule.

Lawrence Yule.

RNZ

Environment Minister Amy Adams believes the Government's controls on genetically-modified trials and releases are strict enough and said she will change the law to stop councils restricting the growing of genetically-engineered crops and animals in their districts.

Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said on Friday that councils have taken those steps because many people want a more precautionary approach than central government.

GE fungus escapes at Lincoln University

GE fungus escapes at Lincoln University

Officials are investigating how a genetically modified soil fungus escaped containment facilities at Lincoln University, near Christchurch.

The fungus was found in restricted access laboratories and greenhouses on university grounds earlier this month, but the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says does not yet know how it escaped the tighter security.

It believes the environmental threat is very low.

The genetic modification involved adding marker genes to indicate the fungus' presence in research plants.

"At this stage, we believe it is unlikely any potentially genetically modified Beauveria bassiana fungus has spread further," said MPI's Roger Smith.

All samples and plant materials known to contain the modified fungus have been secured. MPI was now checking if any other material may have been inadvertently exposed to the fungus.

Lincoln University assistant vice-chancellor Stefanie Rixecker says researchers had believed they were working with a wild fungus, before it was discovered it had a genetic marker attached to it.

The university took breaches of containment very seriously and the investigation would be very thorough, she said.

The Green Party says the release is a "massive wake up call to our environmental regulators".

"It's absolutely not acceptable that almost two weeks after this breach the ministry still doesn't know how it occurred," said genetic engineering spokesman Steffan Browning.

GM free means good sales for NZ

GM-free means good sales for NZ

STEPHANIE HOWARD

Hawke's Bay Council is supporting push for GE free status

Council is supporting push for GE status

Hawke’s Bay took one step closer to establishing a genetic engineering-free food status for the region when the Hastings District Council expressed support for the vision, writes Lawrence Gullery of Hawke’s Bay Today. 

Pure Hawke’s Bay presented to the Hastings Council’s long-term plan hearing this week to put its case forward for a GE-free district and the council responded by voting unanimously in support of the proposal.

The council was keen to join Napier in declaring itself GE-free but wanted to take the concept a step further, writing it into its district plan to give it some legal clout.

The idea is to protect the growing soils of the Heretaunga Plains which supports the region’s primary and horticulture economy.

The council was also keen to become a national leader of the GE-free movement rather than wait for the Government to come up with a national policy. Currently only Whangarei is moving in the GE-free direction.

The status would give food producers a point of difference when marketing overseas and put tighter rules around applications for GE crops to be grown in the district.

Pure Hawke’s Bay said it was not “anti-science” but believed research around GE foods should be restricted “to the labs” and not grown out in crops in New Zealand.

ANIMAL DEATH TOLL ENDS CLONING TRIALS

 

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email: letters@dompost.co.nz

 

 

www.stuff.co.nz/national/4681283/Animal-death-toll-ends-cloning-trials

Animal death toll ends cloning trials

DOMINION POST

by Kiran Chug

21/02/2011

STOPPED: AgResearch has ended its cloning trials after acceptable death rates were recorded.

Unacceptable death rates of laboratory animals have forced AgResearch to end its cloning trials.

But the science agency says it will continue to create more genetically engineered animals using new research methods.

The state research organisation has issued reports into trials conducted at its Ruakura centre that detail chronic arthritis, pneumonia, lameness and blood poisoning among the causes of cattle, sheep and goat deaths.

The reports, made available to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act, refer to trials including those carried out on genetically engineered animals being developed to produce a kind of super milk, as well as animals being cloned.

Other trials where deaths occurred included those looking for resistance to eczema in sheep, exploring feeding motivation in pregnant sheep, and collecting tissue from genetically modified embryos.

Applied biotechnologies general manager Jimmy Suttie said that after 13 years of studying how to prevent abnormalities forming in cloned animals, AgResearch had ended its cloning research.

"The decision was made, enough is enough."

Ruakura pulls pin on cloning facility

 

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email: news@waikatotimes.co.nz

 

 

www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/farming/4683770/Ruakura-pulls-pin-on-cloning-facility

Ruakura pulls pin on cloning facility

CHRIS GARDNER AND KIRAN CHUG

Waikato Times

Last updated 13:00 21/02/2011

The axe has fallen on AgResearch's controversial livestock cloning facility at Ruakura amid reports only 10 per cent of animals involved survived.

But applied biotechnologies general manager Jimmy Suttie said this morning the Hamilton facility – capable of containing up to 200 animals – had closed in September because stem cell research showed more promise.

Reports released by the Crown research institute under the Official Information Act show unacceptable death rates of laboratory animals forced AgResearch to end its cloning trials.

The reports detail chronic arthritis, pneumonia, lameness and blood poisoning among the causes of cattle, sheep and goat deaths and refer to trials including those carried out on genetically engineered animals being developed to produce a kind of super milk, as well as those being cloned.

Other trials where deaths occurred included those looking for resistance to eczema in sheep, exploring feeding motivation in pregnant sheep, and collecting tissue from genetically modified embryos.

Dr Suttie said that after 13 years of studying how to prevent abnormalities forming in cloned animals AgResearch had ended its cloning research.

"The decision was made, enough is enough."

CALL TO ACTION- Opportunity to stop an application for 4,000 GE pine trees in NZ

CALL TO ACTION- Opportunity to stop an application for 4,000 GE pine trees in NZ

 

Scion (formerly “Forest Research”), a NZ Crown Research Institute, has lodged an application for GE pine trees

 

LAB ERRORS LEAD TO GE LEAK

 

 

 

www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10662711

National News

Lab errors leads to GE leak

NZ HERALD

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.

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