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Greens: Deformed Calves Don't Enhance NZ's Image, Agresearch

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

4 SEPTEMBER 2008 - A long press statement by AgResearch today in which it tries to justify its application to genetically engineer a wide range of animals, plus human and monkey cells, inadvertently shows sad downsides to GE research such as deformed foetuses and calves.

"In its statement today, the Crown research institute makes some outrageous claims as 'facts' in the 35 questions it asks and answers for itself headed 'Fact or Fiction'," Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"For example it admits a less than 9 percent live birth rate, aborted deformed foetuses, deformed calves, gangrenous udders and `animals suffering from respiratory conditions', but denies there are animal welfare concerns.

"It says genetic engineering 'can enhance New Zealand's clean, green image'. This is despite a consumer movement worldwide over the past 10 years against GE food and the fact our GE-free agricultural industry could be a major marketing advantage in the same way as nuclear-free is.

"It tries to refute that the application side-steps the Government's policy of dealing with GE applications on a case by case basis, but then says it 'allows us flexibility to do this'."

Ms Fitzsimons called on AgResearch to stop trying to cover its application with spin and come clean on which parts of New Zealand are likely to be used in outside experiments as new GE testing grounds.

"This application in four parts lists numerous animal and human cells and other animal body parts to be host organisms for engineering. It could allow AgResearch to develop unlimited numbers of GE animals without telling us which specific genes and associated genetic material they intend to use, and without going back to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for further approval," she says.

Whole animals the Crown research institute wants to genetically engineer for "outside containment" are llamas, alpacas, sheep, cows, pigs, goats, buffalo, deer and horses.

"AgResearch says it has 'developed a world leading capability in transgenic livestock research' and talks about creating 'sustainable wealth' but the fact is it wants to turn New Zealand into a giant GE laboratory to boost its own corporate plans at the expense of our long-term image, and without taking into account the huge risk of something going wrong," Ms Fitzsimons says.

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