SAFE is delighted that the Supreme Court is to consider the case brought by GE-Free NZ concerning four applications by AgResearch seeking indefinite and wide ranging use of GE animals in New Zealand. GE-Free NZ has been given leave to have the case heard following The High Court decision which set aside the applications as being unreasonably broad, being overturned on appeal.

"We are thrilled that the Supreme Court has accepted our case as the bar for such acceptance is high. There is enormous concern amongst the public about the planned introduction of GE animals, and this case will decide how New Zealand proceeds in relation to legal restraint of potentially extreme science," said Claire Bleakley president of GE-Free NZ in food and environment. "It will also clarify how the public can participate constructively in a process that affects them very personally, and has huge implications for the environment and New Zealand's exports".

ERMA (The Environmental Risk Management Authority) accepted four applications from AgResearch to develop, import and go into commercial production of products from GE animals across 18 species, including pigs, sheep, cows, alpacas, buffalo, deer, goats, horses and donkeys. The generic applications sought approval at any location and for an indefinite period to allow commercial production of biopharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and to produce diseased animals for research.

"GE-Free NZ previously took action in The High Court because of the alarming implications of these generic applications to commercialise GE animals as bio-factories anywhere, anytime, and in any place AgResearch chose. They are so lacking in vital information that it is impossible for submitters to know if and how their bio-security, economic wellbeing or community will be affected now or in the future," said Mrs Bleakley.

"The approach of case-by-case risk assessment which government promised New Zealanders as the cornerstone of legislation has been completely abandoned in these applications. What AgResearch and its overseas partners are seeking is so broad that it could allow the transformation of New Zealand agriculture by stealth, with no way to gauge or manage the risks," said Jon Carapiet, spokesperson for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

GE-Free NZ believed that the information required by law was so deficient that no member of the public, independent scientific experts or ERMA could properly assess the risks to the community, animal welfare, bio-security or New Zealand's tourism and export-reliant economy.

"We were pleased that Justice Clifford previously found in our favour, declaring the applications to be invalid and setting them aside," said Claire Bleakley. "We felt that the subsequent Court of Appeal decision needed to be challenged to protect the national interest, and we are thrilled that the case is to be heard in the Supreme Court".