‘Carte Blanche’ GE Animal Decision Shows Value In GE Free Zones



l6 April 2010

‘Carte Blanche’ GE Animal Decision Shows Value In GE Free Zones

GE Free Northland is appalled at the Environmental Risk Management Authority's (ERMA) decision to give an approval for genetic engineering of sheep, cows, and goats.

"This application shows total disregard for the concerns of the vast majority of New Zealanders and for New Zealand's reputation overseas," said Zelka Grammer, GE free Northland spokesperson. "AgResearch's push for further cloning of GE animals will increase animal suffering".(1)

Expert witness Dr. Judith Carman told the ERMA committee that it was impossible to assess the millions of possible genetic transformations that could be engineered without more specific information. Questions of human, environmental and agricultural safety were unable to be considered. [2]

Genetically engineered animals will be used as bio-factories in an attempt to produce new bio-pharmaceutical proteins. The animals will eventually be discarded into an open offal pit that poses a direct threat to the surrounding ecosystem and groundwater. Any diseases that the GE animals might harbour could enter the ground or be discharged onto the land through effluent and aborted tissue.

"The outdoors conditions are dangerous to New Zealand's biosecurity as they have not evaluated any particular organism and are no stricter than any other decision, just couched in more rhetoric," said Ms. Grammer

In addition, the Royal Commission into Genetic Modification made a key recommendation in 2001 that animals in the food chain should not be used as "bio-reactors".(3)

Lessons from overseas shows it is only a matter of time before the proposed 'Russian roulette' approach to our biosecurity allows pathogens to threaten communities and the economy.

"New Zealand is a unique and beautiful country with a disease free, GE-Free environment. Our farmers must be able to continue to sell their sustainable, profitable, trusted and 100% GE Free pure produce to consumers worldwide," said GE FREE NORTHLAND Chairman Martin Robinson.

With the "double whammy" of the recent Court of Appeal overturning last years High Court decision against AgResearch (who wants to release transgenic animals to undisclosed locations in the North Island), it is all the more imperative that local councils do everything they can to protect ratepayers and the environment.

Chairman of the NRC Environmental Management Committee, Clr Craig Brown, said:

"I am of the opinion that if lobbying of central government (which has already gone on for some years since the creation of the HSNO Act) continues to be unsuccessful in persuading government to take the appropriate action that the regional council and territorial authorities of Northland need to put strong precautionary measures against GMO land use in their District Plans and the Regional Policy Statement."

"Local councils can take the lead in representing the views of New Zealanders and can best protect their interests. The Colmar Brunton GE poll conducted back in November clearly showed that 70%+ or 2/3rds of Northlanders support some type of local regulation of GMO land use."

GE FREE NORTHLAND spokeswoman Zelka Grammer said:

"We cannot rely on central government agencies like ERMA and MAF/Biosecurity NZ to protect our patch. There are serious animal welfare and biosecurity issues surrounding yet another flawed decision by ERMA".

GE FREE NORTHLAND shares the concerns of Local Government NZ and local authorities about the significant deficiencies in the national regulatory regime for GMOs.

"We would like to see either GMO land use prohibited in Northland/Auckland peninsula or the moratorium on GE field trials/releases reinstated," said its spokesperson Zelka Grammer.

"A Regional Exclusion Zone for GMOs would help ensure our region retains the economic and environmental advantage of being GE free," said Ms. Grammer.

GE FREE NORTHLAND supports the innovative work of the Inter Council Working Party on GMOs whose core aim is to protect the regions biosecurity and economy.

We stress that the Northland/Auckland peninsula is ideally placed geographically to achieve the distinction of a Regional Exclusion Zone, which would minimise the economic, environmental, public health and liability exposures from GE release and experiments.

This requires urgent attention given the intentions of AgResearch to experiment with GE on a whatever, wherever, whenever basis as shown in their applications to ERMA. ENDS


Zelka Grammer, Spokesperson 09 432 2155

Martin Robinson, Chairman 09 407 8650




[1] see ERMA Annual Reports 2000-2009, acknowledging that cloning of animals causes deformities see paragraph 6.2.47 about the deformities. [2] Dr Judith Carman witness statement. 01/03/2010

(3) Royal Commission into Genetic Modification report 2001

see recommendation 7.5

"that wherever possible, non-food animals, or animals less likely to find their way into the food chain, be used as bioreactors rather than animals that are a common source of food

access to the Final report on potential breaches of biosecurity at the Pirbright UK site 2007