Biotech Animals Case Goes to High Court

Sunday 8 March 2009, 9:47AM
By GE Free NZ

The High Court case taken by GE Free NZ in food and environment against the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) and AgResearch a Crown Research Institute (CRI) is being heard on Monday 9th March, 2009.


GE Free NZ took the action after AgResearch made a series of four applications that seek to develop, import and commercialise genetically modified animals from nine species of animals (alpacas, buffalo, cows, deer, goats, horses and donkeys, sheep, pigs). The generic applications seek approval at any location and for an indefinite period to allow commercial production of biopharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and diseased animals for research.


“These four generic applications seek the right to use animals as bio factories anywhere, anytime, and in any way that the applicant wants. They are so broad that they make it impossible for people to know if, and how they will be affected now or at any time in the future” said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.


“Because there are no specifications this makes it impossible for the public or scientific experts to know what they are being asked to comment on. The assessment of risks to the environment and any alternative methods to a GE one, cannot also be considered.”


“Previous applications for genetic modification have been continually stretching all the statutory boundaries, which ERMA carries out. The international best-practice approach of case by case risk assessment is being abandoned as applications are getting broader and broader with no ability to know what kind of risk is being produced,” said Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment .


To date the trials on GE animals in New Zealand have been plagued with deformities, well as sudden death from congenital heart and organ failure. Early abortions are common with many foetuses suffering from excessive abdominal fluid (hydrops) resulting in a very low to zero birth rate. New Zealand as also been exposed to the commercial risks of the 9-year GE sheep trial conducted by Scottish company PPL in which some 3000 GE animals had to be destroyed after the product failed in clinical trials and caused severe immune reactions in subjects.


GE Free NZ believes that applications are so universal in scope but lacking in detail that it is impossible to reasonably assess the risks or allow any New Zealand farmer, food producer, exporter or concerned member of the public to make a submission on how they will be impacted- for good or for worse.


The case being taken before the High Court seeks for all the applications to be withdrawn by ERMA and returned to the applicant.



Jon Carapiet 021 0507681


Claire Bleakley 06-3089842 027 348 6731