GE Free NZ in food and environment – Sunday, May 4, 2003
Biotech industry lobby-groups who want to make New Zealand into an experimental playground for "Pharming" are threatening the National interest unless they guarantee to produce their pharmaceuticals in full containment.
" Full containment of high-value but potentially lethal pharmaceutical-producing organisms is the only reasonable path short of an outright ban”, says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
A recent report in the NZ Herald that 8 GE potato plants will yield $1 million worth of a scarce pharmaceutical makes ethical production in fully-contained labs cost-effective and achievable.
"Industry must agree to full containment, and guarantee to comply. That is the only way can pursue ethical means of production in the lab without irreversible contamination of New Zealand's much-valued environment," says Mr Carapiet.
New Zealand must be protected from the damage already occurring from Pharm crops in the US where hundreds of hectares of crops have been burned because of contamination.
It is ironic that speculators and lobby-groups like the Life Science Network want to sacrifice our GE-Free production at the same time as using New Zealand's scrapy-free and BSE- free status as a draw-card for Pharmaceutical-producing animals and plants crops.
Our excellent animal and plant health status will be severely compromised if other farmers follow the aim of a Rangiora farmer to grow GE Pharm-crops here in New Zealand. Contamination from such products is irreversible but significantly more serious than "ordinary" GE-contamination because of the effects of the pharmaceuticals
A recent article in Science states that ancient DNA may remain preserved in sediments for a long time.
Professor Joe Cummins suggests that 'pharm' crops producing potent drugs, may release DNA that does not, as presumed by regulators, immediately disappear by decay; instead it may persist a very long time.
Pharm crop DNA such as those containing human genes may be ingested, breathed in with dust or taken up through skin.
Recent reports in the US show that these crops have already contaminated food sources as well as the fact that companies are breaching regulatory controls.
An article posted on Life Sciences website in December stated 'errors by a small American biotech company called ProdiGene Inc. have called into question the whole idea of growing drugs in food crops, seeming to vindicate years of warnings from environmental groups and more recent concerns from big food companies.'
'These companies need to guarantee full containment and accept liability for their experiments. The food companies would not be concerned if the risks were negligible,' says Mr Carapiet.
A recent decision by the New Zealand government means the public will not be protected from speculative GM-releases going wrong: any incidents of ill health or negative impacts to soils and income will need to be proven in a court of law. Large corporations wanting to grow these drugs will use expensive lawyers to justify themselves, to the Public's disadvantage.
The news today that a recent government report declined to acknowledge
problems of NZ soldiers serving in Vietnam have suffered due to exposure to Monsanto Agent Orange shows the extent to which corporations and even governments will go to avoid any responsibility.