Biotechnology has made important advances adding much of value to our scientific heritage. However, the technology of genetic engineering is seriously flawed.
Moving genes between species is changing the shape of our world. It, and the patenting of plants and animals, has extended property rights into biology, providing the potential for direct control over much of the world's agricultural production and thus its food supply.
15 February 2014
CEOs, Mayors and Councillors of all Regional, District and City Councils in New Zealand,
cc Local and Community Boards, and CEOs and Board Members of all District Health Boards
Submission to Councils Future Community and Regional Plans
The Trustees of PSGR thank Council for their response to previous correspondence. We ask that you accept and consider the following concerns as a submission when establishing your planning and budgeting documents and in so doing supporting a sustainable future for your district and a healthy community, and in doing this draw support from members of District Health Boards and Community and Local Boards.
Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility is a Charitable Trust established to provide independent scientific assessment and advice on matters relating to genetic engineering and other scientific and medical matters. We offer the following:
Field trials of transgenic canola took place in Tasmania in the late 1990s and 2000. Observing the effects, the Tasmanian Government decided to pursue agriculture that is free of genetically engineered organisms. Management issues of the former trial sites included seed persistence. Consequently, an annual audit of sites has taken place. The most recent was in May 2013, with all 53 sites inspected. Four sites had canola volunteers. In 2008, volunteers were found at twelve of the 53 sites, twelve different sites to the 2013 audit. During audits, nearby roadsides and other areas are inspected to ensure containment is being achieved. This policy has been maintained and strengthened with a recent decision for an indefinite moratorium on release of GMOs to protect their brand and export economy.
Over half the 2013 sites had not involved recent soil disturbance and it was acknowledged that these will have dormant canola seed in the soil that will not germinate until soil disturbance takes place. The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) advises canola seeds can be viable for up to 16 years.
Australian farmers growing conventional canola have regularly secured a higher price for their crops. Exporters can check a list of countries that ban transgenic crops and require food labelling for any transgenic element on http://naturalrevolution.org/list-of-countries-that-ban-gmo-crops-and-require-ge-food-labels/.
Testimony presented to Northland Regional Council on 21 June 2013 by Dr Peter R Wills, Department of Physics, The University of Auckland.
I am a theoretical biologist with 30 years research experience at The University of Auckland, the United States National Institutes of Health and Santa Fe Institute and a large number of research institutes and universities in Germany, most recently the Universität Tübingen. My main area of research concerns the way in which biological systems interpret genetic information. My latest publications in this area are about:
pathological reinterpretation of host genetic information by prion agents;
the fundamental character of genetic information and coding in nature;
biomimetic “genetic coding” control of electronic-chemical nano-particles;
ethical and societal aspects of new biotechnologies.
This research is concerned with the foundations of genetics and the processes responsible for expressing the effects of genetic changes, including those produced by using techniques of genetic engineering (GE). My professional contributions to discussions about genetic engineering include:
commentary for the Bioethics Council;
comprehensive testimony to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification;
testimony to the Waitangi tribunal;
chapter in a book about GE;
internationally published scholarly work;
authorship of an international scientists’ statement about GE.
In 1987 I was the first researcher ever to use the NZ Official Information Act to gain access to government documents concerning the regulation of genetic engineering activities in New Zealand and I made many submissions to the Environmental Risk Management Authority and the Australia New Zealand Food Authority during the 1990s. I take great care to separate scientific issues from policy issues and value judgments. I likewise take a cautious approach to claims of scientific certainty. I am a founding trustee of Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility (New Zealand).
Uncertainty in genetic engineering
18 April 2013
The Right Hon John Key
cc Ministries for Primary Industries; Environment. Ministries of Business, Innovation and Employment; Foreign Affairs and Trade; Health; Māori Development; Social Development; Women's Affairs; all Members of Parliament, New Zealand Councils, District Health Boards, and Community and Local Boards; relevant community groups and NGOs
Dear Mr Key
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the welfare of New Zealand and its people
Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility is a Charitable Trust established to provide independent scientific assessment and advice on matters relating to genetic engineering, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, (bio)geo-engineering and other scientific matters.
Ensuring protection for New Zealand and New Zealanders against harm from genetic engineering and novel technologies
We are concerned about the alleged secrecy surrounding clauses in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) under negotiation. While discretion is to be expected in any negotiation, PSGR asks your government to release clear acknowledgement that New Zealanders and the New Zealand environment will be safeguarded and not jeopardized in respect to the risks associated with genetic engineering, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and (bio)geo-engineering. Free Trade must not be at the expense of New Zealand industry and agriculture, its environment, or the values and well-being of New Zealanders, and it must not infringe in any way the basic human right of the public to freedom of choice.
We write because there has been no such assurance so far, despite indications that negotiations are proposing unacceptable compromises on standards and duty of care.