PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)

Productivity Commission threatens GE Deregulation, Safe Food and advances Animal Cruelty  20/04/2022

There are serious failings in The Productivity Commission's 'Frontier Science' Report, which advances deregulation of genetic modification, engineering (GM/GE), reciting Biotech industry justifications for loosening controls. [1]

The report's push for deregulation of Gene Editing would risk disastrous exposure to biological systems. At risk are our world-class reputation for safe food, natural production systems and ethical animal welfare.

The Productivity Commission with Federated Farmers promotes GE transgenic rye grass as the way of the future. [2] The five-year AgResearch GE ryegrass trials in the US have expired, with no reports on the outcome. The early data suggests that it is a failure in respect to the existing non-GE rye grasses on the market today in New Zealand.

“The amount of money spent in the GE rye grass trial is irresponsible,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ, “It shows that the economic imperative to patent and own the grass is the end point, not climate change or for the benefit of farmers or animals.”

The report has ignored and sidelined this meaningful action on climate change. Also, Federated Farmers and Fonterra have failed to promote mixed forage planting, proven in FRNL DairyNZ research to reduce nitrate and greenhouse gas footprints. [3]

The Productivity Commission report also references opportunities for bio-pharming with the potential use of GE animals to make new products and pharmaceuticals. The use of Gene Editing tools in animal bio-pharming has shown the modifications are extreme and cruel. The GE animals suffer from deformities, chronic illnesses and have failed to produce viable pharmaceuticals. The Bio-Ethics Council spoke against the use of New Zealand farm animals in bio-pharming.

The Productivity Commission report's view that Gene Editing “potential new technologies” have to be commercialised and ‘deregulated’ is the same mantra used 25 years ago for deregulation of the failed early GE technology of transgenics. New Zealand cannot afford industry to avoid necessary precaution and regulation.

The Productivity Commission report fails to value Nature itself, the existing opportunities for authentic climate action and the longer-term importance of bio-integrity in natural systems. There is also value in Brand New Zealand being recognised by international consumers for safe, natural food, high standards of animal welfare and meeting the global demand for Non-GMO Food.

Minister for the Environment David Parker has rightly supported the existing legislation (HSNO) with a solid precautionary foundation. The discussion round medicine is however, to be taken with caution. There must be a transparent independent body ensuring that appropriate community protections are in place*.

It is disappointing that case studies in the Productivity Commission report are unsuccessful, expensive and ethically compromising examples. These speak against the Commission and biotech industry lobby claiming legislation is no longer “fit for purpose.”

New Zealand prides itself on its quality produce and grass fed animals. The move to Organic growing methods that are regenerative will not only be better for the environment but also the health of the people. We are exposed to global trends. We must not pollute our land with dangerous unproven GE technologies and toxic pesticides.

“We are willing to debate the merits of staying GE Free both scientifically and economically.”


[1] Frontier Report Productivity Commission - https://www.productivity.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Final-report-Frontier-firms.pdf

[2] https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/04/16/genetic-modification-review-being-called-for-reigniting-debate/

[3] https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/research/forages-for-reduced-nitrate-leaching-programme/

*To date the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved two global phase 3 clinical trials for GE medicines. A liver cancer trial (Pexa Vec) was shut down early, as the outcome did not meet the end points. The Telomelysin trial for melanoma was approved but not commenced. Pexa Vec trial - https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/Uploads/H202005963-Response.pdf Telomelysin - https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Signed-OIA-ENQ-41539-R8X9F1.pdf

Jon Carapiet - spokesman 0210507681
Claire Bleakley – president 027 348 6731/06 3089842