GE-Free NZ wins court battle over AgResearch
2.GM animal applications invalid - appeal upheld
3.GE-Free wins court battle over AgResearch
EXTRACT: "This is a precedent-setting case and an amazing win for the public of New Zealand that protects our farmers and exporters."
"In developing the country's approach to gene technology, it is vital we learn from the history of Mad Cow Disease, Foot and Mouth, Swine Flu, animal deformity through cloning, the failure and bankruptcy of previous GE-animal commercial ventures, and the public distaste for extreme animal cruelty." (item 2)
1.AgResearch loses bid to expand GM animal research
Radio New Zealand, 7 June 2009
The lobby group GE-Free New Zealand has won a legal challenge to an AgResearch application to expand its research into genetically modified animals.
The Crown Research Institute had applied to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to continue research into genetically modifying cows to include human proteins in their milk.
It also wanted to broaden its investigations to include a range of animals, with the aim of producing pharmaceuticals and other products that might have health benefits and commercial applications.
But a High Court Judge agreed with GE Free NZ that the application lacked essential information required under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, and said ERMA erred by receiving the application in the first place.
2.GM animal applications invalid appeal upheld
GE Free NZ, 7 June 2009
In a precedent setting case, the High Court has upheld the appeal by GE Free NZ in Food and Environment against ERMA and AgResearch.
After 12 weeks of deliberation, Justice Clifford found that ERMA erred in receiving the applications from AgResearch and has declared them invalid. The decision sets aside the decisions by ERMA to proceed with the applications. ERMA is to take no further steps toward hearing and assessing the applications.
SEARCH NZ JOBS
In October 2008 GE Free NZ went to the High Court to appeal a decision by ERMA NZ to notify four applications submitted by AgResearch that ranged from importing genetically engineered embryo's created overseas, to field trialing and commercial production of pharmaceuticals in milk, development of animals to model disease and virtually ‘anything else’ that would be of commercial interest.
"It is fantastic news that our concerns about the broad and indefinite nature of these applications have been upheld.” says Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ in food and environment. “The cruelty and unregulated exploitation of animals for unsound GM research is not acceptable to New Zealanders."
The decision instructs ERMA to immediately halt processing the applications made by AgResearch who sought the right to modify nine species of animals, for an unlimited period, for commercial ventures anywhere in New Zealand.
“This was not the ‘case by case’ regulation of ethical research that government promised the public, following the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, but a wholesale rush to commercialisation that would likely devastate New Zealand’s export and tourism image,” says Jon Carapiet spokesperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.
The plans directly contradict the recommendations of the Royal Commission to not use food animals as bioreactors. Given the potential to damage rather than develop the economy and to dramatically increase the incidence of unethical treatment of animals, the decision is cause for AgResearch to comprehensively rethink how it serves its mission to ‘create sustainable wealth for the New Zealand pastoral and biotechnology sectors’. Neither AgResearch nor overseas investors must be allowed limitless scope to exploit New Zealand as a GE play ground and threaten the very core of the New Zealand Brand.
“There is an urgent need for Government to direct Crown Research Institutes, like AgResearch, to comply with a Biotechnology Strategy that does not include genetic modification, but one that builds on our existing reputation and supports clean, natural and sustainable production,” says Jon Carapiet.
"In developing the country's approach to gene technology, it is vital we learn from the history of Mad Cow Disease, Foot and Mouth, Swine Flu, animal deformity through cloning, the failure and bankruptcy of previous GE-animal commercial ventures, and the public distaste for extreme animal cruelty."
"This is a precedent-setting case and an amazing win for the public of New Zealand that protects our farmers and exporters," says Claire Bleakley. "We would like to thank all who supported and helped us in the process of the case."
3.GE-Free wins court battle over AgResearch
AgResearch says it is disappointed GE-Free New Zealand has won a court battle to restrict applications to import genetically engineered (GE) material and livestock.
The High Court at Wellington ruled on Friday that the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) had erred in receiving applications for determination under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.
"I think the error is such that Erma cannot continue to treat the applications as if they were valid," Justice Denis Clifford said.
He ordered that any decisions to accept applications be set aside and that Erma stop hearing and assessing any further applications.
GE-Free had taken both Erma and AgResearch to court in March.
AgResearch last year made four applications for the laboratory testing of human and monkey cell lines and smaller species of GE laboratory animals, and the development of GE cows, buffalo, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas, deer and horses.
It wanted the livestock to produce antigens, biopharmaceuticals, enzymes, hormones and other products with possible health benefits and commercial applications.
AgResearch said it was making a "suite" of applications to obtain all the possible approvals it might need for research, and animal breeding to target production of high-value proteins in milk.
Today, general manager science and technology Jimmy Suttie said the ruling prevented AgResearch from undertaking transgenic animal research effectively.
"We are challenged by this procedural issue as we will now lose valuable time in advancing our research and opportunities to capitalise on it."
However, he said AgResearch would revise its applications to Erma and submit alternatives.
"We believe this is necessary to secure for New Zealand the opportunity to do this type of research and provide options for the pastoral industry."
GE-Free spokesman Jon Carapiet hailed the High Court decision as one of the most significant decisions relating to GE in the last decade.
The public and farmers were against the "wholesale approach to genetic engineering of animals", he said.
Mr Carapiet said the Royal Commission into GE in 2001, and subsequent governments, did not want an "anything, anywhere, anytime, go free and multiply" approach to GE research, but a case by case, careful assessment of the risks and opportunities.
Few GE applications on their own would stand up and AgResearch's suite proposal would have avoided that scrutiny, he said.
The decision would force the applicants and Erma to more fully analyse what they would do with an organism and how they would do it, he said.
"It should force AgResearch to really rethink what it is doing in terms of investing money in genetic engineering versus other areas.
The Soil and Health association said the decision was "a victory for New Zealanders" and showed Erma was failing Parliament's intentions.
"Every Erma approved field trial, whether plant or animal, has fallen down on its conditions. For AgResearch to be loosely applying for a veritable zoo to play with, was risky, unethical and went against New Zealand's point of difference in the world: clean green, 100 per cent pure and essentially GE Free," said spokesman Steffan Browning.
Erma general manager of new organisms Libby Harrison said the government agency would not comment until it had had time to read and consider the High Court decision.
In the meantime, all work on processing AgResearch applications had stopped.
"We have no other similar applications in process at present."