New Zealand animal cloning needs to stop

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New Zealand needs a ban on animal cloning, food from cloned animals and a verification process put in for imported foods to ensure compliance for New Zealand consumers, according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.

Soil & Health also wants the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) to clarify the position it has been promoting internationally against labeling food from cloned animals, and for Fonterra to state unequivocally its opposition to cloning and genetic engineering of animals and pasture.

Following leakage of beef and possibly milk from cloned animals getting into the British food chain, the EU Parliament has called for new EU legislation to be developed to expressly prohibit foods from cloned animals and their descendents, with a moratorium on their sale in the meantime.
However NZFSA, representing New Zealand at Codex alimentarius meetings where international food standards and labeling rules are set, has been opposing labeling of food from cloned animals.

‘In supporting AgResearch’s cruel genetically engineered (GE) animal cloning at Ruakura, and the international sales of the GE technology or its products, NZFSA has been taking a position that is contrary to New Zealanders and consumers world-wide,” said Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“The technology is cruel and has a track record of very few live births, with resultant offspring prone to a variety of disabilities including arthritis, respiratory distress, deformities and ruptured ovaries.”

“AgResearch was involved with the failed PPL Therapeutics’ farming at Whakamaru of four thousand cloned GE ‘Dolly’ type sheep which suffered respiratory and other defects, ahead of the company’s failure and the sheeps’ destruction in 2003. AgResearch continues the same misery at Ruakura with GE cows, and new GE approvals by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for goats and more sheep.”

AgResearch recently was found to have allowed calves to have died from ruptured ovaries, and AgResearch’s applied technologies group manager, Dr Jimmy Suttie, was quoted in May as saying he did not see the deaths as a “big deal”, and they were part of the learning process for scientists. In 2007, following a highly contentious USDA report on the safety of food from cloned animals, Dr Suttie said there was nothing to stop cloned animals entering the food chain, but it was not happening because of international consumer preference.

“That same international consumer preference prevails and Dr Suttie’s cruel experiments need to stop before New Zealand is recognised as the centre of cruel cloning,” said Mr Browning.

In 2007, Fonterra spokesman David Anderson said Fonterra did not use cloning or genetic engineering technology, and was committed to not using at this stage. Customer demand meant Fonterra had not looked at using such technologies, and “there is nothing in the wind”, he had said.

“However Fonterra needs to be unequivocal about its position on cloning and genetic engineering if it wants to retain the advantages of trading under the clean green 100% Pure New Zealand brand,” said Mr Browning, “Fonterra is tied to genetically engineered pasture development through its science links and AgResearch, yet traditional breeding and greener pasture management can achieve improved value.”

“What is the position of Fonterra this week? That, ‘there is nothing in the wind’, doesn’t cut it. What is it to be?”

“GE rye grass and clover and cloned animals for supposed productivity, or a clean green naturally developed pasture feeding well bred and cared for animals supplying a valued product that consumers actually want. What does research tell you?”

“New Zealanders need to be sure our research institutes and leading companies such as Fonterra are sharing in the clean green 100% Pure brand, and government needs to be right there with them, sharing the Kiwi vision.”

“AgResearch and NZFSA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), all have culpability in supporting experiments and trade in cloned animal products that are repugnant to most people.”

“New Zealand’s pro-cloned animal position internationally does not reflect what the customer wants and contradicts New Zealand’s clean green 100% Pure trading image.”

Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020 where new technologies do not compromise genuine environmental sustainability but support biological and organic management systems that are animal friendly and do not use synthetic additives.