Sunday, November 20, 2011
GE law probe a big surprise
By David Fisher
November 20, 2011
A highly sensitive Government study into how much money can be made by changing genetic engineering laws will be underway immediately after the election.
Environment Minister Nick Smith is facing embarrassment after admitting he knew nothing about the study.
The proposal from his Ministry for the Environment is in sharp contrast to his assurance GE laws will not change.
The study aims to find out how much money can be made by relaxing laws governing GE and the release of foreign organisms into our environment. The ministry has specifically ordered genetically engineered organisms be included in the study.
Details are in a tender document drafted and quietly released by the ministry this month.
The document - obtained by the Herald on Sunday - shows the Treasury, scientists and companies in the industry believe the country’s “economic performance” is suffering because of strict laws around release of new organisms into the environment.
It says there is concern other countries with more relaxed rules will get a competitive advantage.
Officials say there is no current estimate on how much money restrictive laws cost New Zealand and they want to know if a relaxation will make a difference. They say they want to know how much money the country can make if the law is changed.
Friday, August 19, 2011
The future of GM under fire
Kerry Staight for Landline
August 19, 2011
Greenpeace has called for a ban on all genetically engineered crop field trials in Australia, saying the science is not fully understood.
While genetically modified (GM) cotton and canola have already been released commercially, there are a range of other GM plants growing in field experiments around the country including wheat, barley, bananas and sugarcane.
“We’re fine with GM research in the lab, but Greenpeace believes we just don’t know enough when it comes to genome function to support the release of a living genetically modified organism into the environment,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Laura Kelly said.
Last month, Greenpeace activists allegedly scaled the fences at the CSIRO’s experimental site near Canberra and destroyed a GM wheat trial.
The organisation has not ruled out targeting other outdoor experiments.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Scientists reject human trials of GM wheat
Sydney Morning Herald
June 27, 2011
A group of prominent scientists and researchers from around the world has urged Australia not to go ahead with human trials of genetically modified (GM) wheat.
The CSIRO is carrying out a study of feeding GM wheat grown in the ACT to rats and pigs and could extend the trial to humans.
The modified wheat has been altered to lower its glycaemic index in an attempt to see if the grain could have health benefits such as improving blood glucose control and lowering cholesterol levels.
But eight scientists and academics from Britain, the US, India, Argentina and Australia believe not enough studies have been done on the effects of GM wheat on animals to warrant human trials.
The CSIRO has dismissed their concerns, insisting no decision has been made on if or when human trials will begin.
In a letter to the CSIRO’s chief executive Megan Clark, the scientists expressed their “unequivocal denunciation” of the experiments.
“The use of human subjects for these GM feeding experiments is completely unacceptable,” the letter said.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
AgResearch stalls ‘damaging’ report
By Kiran Chug
The Dominion Post
June 23, 2011
Attempts to shut down a scientific report critical of AgResearch’s practices at its genetic engineering laboratories have been revealed through the company’s internal documents.
The report has sparked a war of words between the Canterbury University professor who wrote it, and the Crown research institute he criticises.
Professor Jack Heinemann, from the university’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety, wrote the report, which was published in an international peer-reviewed journal last month.
Its publication came about a year after he was asked by GE Free New Zealand to look into AgResearch’s monitoring of the risk of horizontal gene transfers at its Ruakura facility.
AgResearch receives a mixture of taxpayer funding and commercial backing, with about three-quarters of its funding for research carried out at Ruakura coming from public funds.
The report looked at the agency’s offal holes containing genetically engineered cow carcasses and its monitoring of the risk of material from those pits contaminating the soil.
Correspondence made available to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act reveals that staff who saw a draft of Prof Heinemann’s critical report found it to be “at face value quite damaging”.
“Generally the report looks and sounds authoritative and thorough. The response should be to take it seriously. This is particularly important as it questions the rigour of AgR scientific processes - an issue that any scientific institute must regard as an issue of core competency.”
Friday, June 10, 2011
Scientists launch rival claims over cows that produce mothers’ milk
June 10, 2011
SCIENTISTS in two countries looked set to lock horns today over who had produced the world’s first human milk … from cows.
An Argentine laboratory announced yesterday that it had created the world’s first transgenic cow, using human genes that will allow the animal to produce the equivalent of mothers’ milk.
The claim came only days after reports emerged from China saying scientists there had genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk and hoped to be selling it in supermarkets within three years.
The researchers at the Agricultural University in Beijing said they had a 300-strong herd of transgenic cows, which had been bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows.
However, AFP reported that Argentina’s National Institute of Agrobusiness Technology said of their research, “The cloned cow, named Rosita ISA, is the first bovine born in the world that incorporates human genes that contain the proteins present in human milk.”
Rosita ISA was born on April 6 by caesarian because she weighed more than 99 pounds (45kg), about twice the normal weight of Jersey cows, according to the statement.
As an adult, “the cow will produce milk that is similar to humans,” the statement said.
In China, workers at the university’s dairy farm have already tasted the milk — and said it is sweeter and stronger than the bovine variety.
“It’s good,” said worker Jiang Yao, according to Sky News. “It’s better for you because it’s genetically modified.”
The scientists there said they have also produced animals that are resistant to mad cow disease, as well as beef cattle that are genetically modified to produce more nutritious meat.