PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)


Scientists Warn Against Liberalising Rules on Genetic Engineering

gmo genetic modified food warning sign front wheat field 134368917Scientists are warning against deregulation of Gene Editing, in a joint declaration by independent scientists with multi-sector expertise in environment, animal and human health. [1]

The joint declaration opposes proposals for deregulation in the EU and goes against plans for liberalising New Zealand's genetic engineering/modification (GE/GM) regulations proposed by the coalition government.

The scientists' statement backs up the concerns of EU Ministers of the Environment. They strongly oppose the EU Commission's liberalisation plan to exempt GMOs from New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), which is likely to also be part of the coalition government agenda in New Zealand. [2] [3]

"The warning against liberalising GMO regulation applies to New Zealand as well as to the EU," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).

"The coalition government must listen to independent scientists who have no financial interest in GE patents or IP. Public conversation and policy about GE must not be captured by commercial biotechnology interests."

The COP28 has for the first time recognised agriculture in a declaration that "promotes sustainable food security, production and nutrition, while conserving, protecting and restoring land and natural ecosystems, enhancing soil health, and biodiversity." [4]

However, media coverage in New Zealand has been largely promoting views in support of the coalition government's loosening of GE regulation and is the subject of formal complaints.

Interviews on Newshub and TVNZ continue to repeat claims for GE ryegrass as a solution to climate change ignoring data on the failed GE trials and the fact the Australian GE Ryegrass application was withdrawn. [5]

"The history of failed GE trials in New Zealand is largely unreported by journalists," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

"Field trials and experiments in New Zealand have been unsuccessful. Many have closed early due to breaches of control or failure to perform. GE animals have suffered throughout their lifetime with deformities and illness.” [6]

The American Chestnut Foundation has discontinued the development of the Darling 58 GE American Chestnut showing significant performance failures like stunting and susceptibility to blight after 12 years,. [7]

“The environmental release into the food chain of a GE banana resistant to blight, has had no critical analysis of safety to consumers.” Said Bleakley “As seen in performance failures of the GE American Chestnut, the short-term trials on GE Bananas found they could be as susceptible and vulnerable to blight after 3-4 years.”

New Zealand's strong regulations requiring proof of environmental safety before GE release is supported by the scientists' declaration.

The signatories represent a significant number of scientists in Europe with relevant expertise in research on the risks of new genetic engineering from the perspective of health and the environment.

The scientists signing the letter do not work for administrative bodies and are independent of the biotechnology industry.

"This is a timely warning for New Zealand's coalition government to listen to independent science and prioritise environmental safety over commercial interests," said Jon Carapiet.

[1] https://www.testbiotech.org/en/news/new-genetic-engineering-scientists-oppose-eu-commission-proposal
[2] https://www.testbiotech.org/sites/default/files/Expert_statement_risks_of_NGT_plants.pdf
[3] https://www.organicseurope.bio/news/eu-environmental-ministers-give-clear-signal-to-commission-to-maintain-the-precautionary-principle-and-risk-assessment-for-ngts/
[4] https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-15436-2023-INIT/en/pdf 
[6] https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/pdf/GE-Animals-in-New-Zealand.pdf
[7] https://tacf.org/darling-58-performance/

Contact –
Jon Carapiet - spokesman-0210507681
Claire Bleakley – president - 027 348 6731