New Zealand: AgResearch ignoring bio-security risks
2. GE Cover-Up or Just Bad Science?
1. AgResearch Ignoring Bio-security Risks
Sunday, 1 May 2011, 8:44 pm
Press Release: GE Free NZ
AgResearch Ignoring Bio-security Risks
AgResearch's 200 acre facility at Ruakura could pose a dangerous bio-security risk to populations in Hamilton and surrounding farmlands, but the threat is being ignored.
New concerns about the site have been raised following a tour of the facilities by GE Free NZ president Claire Bleakley and Soil and Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
The conditions in the fields were shocking, with waste matter from blood, effluent and milk visible. The GE animals suffer a high abortion rate and hawks could be seen flying over the facility. With recent heavy rain, excess water run-off went into a major drain that flowed through the facility to the outskirts of town.
"There were clots of blood fallen on the ground from the disposal of animal's carcass and signs that a tractor had run over the blood mass and transferred it through the fields," said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment.
"But the of particular concern was the pit containing a mixture of effluent and blood-washings running into a tank the contents of which are sprayed onto the paddocks transferring viable transgenic cells over the fields."
In the last few days weather conditions also caused extreme levels of surface flooding throughout the facility. The offal pits are centered at the top of the hill with one side facing the administration block of many organisations and the other running into the field's that the animals were grazing.
Scientists have previously raised concerns over the situation of the offal pits and the possibility of animal waste effluent leachate entering the ground water.
"The surface water in these fields runs into a creek and then a small steam into the farmland. This raises the concern that we could have another Pirbright catastrophe on our hands if we are not careful," said Mrs Bleakley.
Pirbright is a research facility in England that conducts research into vaccines. This facility created through genetic engineering a vaccine for foot and mouth. Due to a failure of precautionary procedures and wet weather conditions the virulent foot and mouth strain escaped into the stream and infected 5 herds up to 10 miles down stream of the facility, closing down England's meat exports for a few months.
"The AgResearch facility is a laboratory with the potential creation of a new disease that could contaminate the Hamilton water supply and the agricultural land surrounding it," said Mrs Bleakley.
This is a major breach of our internal biosecurity measures. What's worse it appears that Regulatory Authorities are turning a blind eye to the poor farm hygiene protocols as they believe there could be no escape of any transgenic material out of the facility.
The poor hygienic conditions not only raise concerns about the ability of GE escape through water ways but also the emergence of a new disease from the recombination of GE genetic material an soil microorganisms. Transformation of soil bacteria with novel genes cells in waste material (Horizontal Gene Transfer) could be exacerbated as different species are grazed all together with no segregation.
After ten years there are still no published studies into the possibility of horizontal gene transfer to soil microorganisms from the waste material. It is alarming that the government has put millions of dollars into these cruel animal experiment yet officials have removed all requirements to test for new disease that might occur as a result.
A new disease could spread through the whole herd of all animals' goats and cows and further affect the non-transgenic animals that are allowed to graze in between the fences.
References: ”¨Initial report on potential breaches to biosecurity at the Pirbright site, 2007, House and Security, DEFRA, retrieved 1/05/2011. http://www.hse.gov.uk/news/archive/07aug/pirbright.htm
2. GE Cover-Up or Just Bad Science?
May 5, 2011
Press Release GE Free NZ
The failure by AgResearch and ERMA to properly test and monitor environmental effects from GE field experiments has put New Zealand's bio-security in serious jeopardy and needs immediate action.
An independent report on AgResearch's legal obligation to test soil for Horizontal Gene Transfer has found AgResearch's study  was totally inadequate for the task.
The review by Professor Jack Heinemann and colleagues from The Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI) published in The Journal of Organic Systems  says despite the deeply flawed research AgResearch told ERMA that "no problems of HGT [horizontal gene transfer] were found," which ERMA blindly accepted. The report says ERMA were 'remiss' in failing to ask for the full data.
Worse, ERMA then cancelled any further research into the environmental impact of GE animals when approving a new AgResearch experiment to run GE cows sheep and goats for the next twenty years.
GE-Free NZ has written to ERMA for an urgent reassessment of the AgResearch GE animal experiments  approved in 2010, including”¨
- A stop to field-spraying animal waste from experimental GE cows, sheep and goats”¨
- The overhaul of currently non-existent tests for environmental impacts”¨
- mandatory animal segregation
A formal enquiry into the scientific and regulatory failure is also needed, and those involved need to be held accountable.
"This is a major breakdown in science that puts our economy at risk. ERMA had the wool pulled over their eyes, and failed to even consider the full report for almost a year and a half," says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.
Soil contamination and spread of novel gene constructs could devastate New Zealand's agricultural sector. Testing for Horizontal Gene Transfer was intended as a central pillar for bio-security research.
Authorities have no idea what the impact on soil has been from previous GE 'novel' experiments. The whole process has been undermined because of a cover-up, scientific incompetence, or bureaucratic bungling, probably all three.
"GE-Free NZ are calling on Fonterra, Federated Farmers, and all sectors of the agriculture economy to support action requiring ERMA to stop the spraying of GE animal milk and effluent onto fields. Also there needs to be an immediate reassessment that would implement stringent regulations around ecosystem effects," says Ms Bleakley. "Any deleterious 'novel' GE ecosystem-changes if left undetected and unmonitored threatens the environment, biosecurity, farmers' livelihoods and our food exports."
References”¨ Microbial characterisation of soils from offal pits, 2004 -2009, AgResearch, recieved under OIA 2010.”¨ Heinemann J., Kurenbach B. and Bleyendaal N, 2011, Evaluation of horizontal gene transfer monitoring experiments conducted in New Zealand between 2004 and 2009, Journal of Organic Systems; Vol 6; 1; 2011 http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/Vol_6(1)/index.html”¨ ERMA 200223. www.ermanz.govt.nz
Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz