Submissions to New Zealand Government
PIRM submission as Interested Persons to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification - 2000Submission Executive Summary
1.    The Pacific Institute of Resource Management (PIRM), founded in 1984, is an organisation dedicated to sustainable use of the earth's resources. We are concerned about the deterioration of global ecosystems, the rapid depletion of natural resources and degradation of the environment, examples being climate change, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, pollution of water systems and natural habitats. Our objectives are to advocate respect for natural processes; conservation of physical resources and integrity of all life forms. We contribute to the establishment of New Zealand as a strong, independent active authority advocating implementation of a world conservation strategy.
2.    We work for the improvement of human communities worldwide living in harmony with the natural world. PIRM has on invitation spoken in forums on genetic modification, including the Talking Technology Conference on Plant Biotechnology in 1996, the Royal Society Conference in 1997, Gene Technology, Benefits and Risks, the ERMA Conference in 1998.
3.    Science is now showing that GE crops have unanticipated ecological impacts: Research at Cornell and Iowa State Universities has confirmed that Bt corn pollen kills Monarch butterflies and other lepidoptera. This impact on non-target species was not predicted prior to the release of Bt corn. Research in Europe shows that GE crops damage beneficial insects, including lacewings and ladybugs. Beneficial insects that prey on aphids which have consumed Bt toxins have lower survival and reproduction rates than those which feed on healthy aphids. This impact was not researched or anticipated prior to release. - B (j)(ii)
4.    Toxins from genetically engineered Bt crops accumulate in the soil, killing organisms and altering soil ecology, according to research at New York University. - B (j)(ii)
5.    GE Crops Are Bad for the US Economy & Will be Bad for NZ Economy Jim Riddle, chair of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Organic Advisory Task Force warns us that US corn exports to Europe dropped by 96% in 1999 because the US cannot provide non-GE corn. US soybean sales to Europe dropped from $2.1 billion in 1996 to $1.1 billion in 1999. Genetic engineering is part of a failed farm policy which is driving farmers off the land. The USDA predicts corn prices below $2/bu through at least 2001 and soybean prices below $5/bu through 2004. Major buyers in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Mexico don't want GE crops. Domestic buyers, including Frito-Lay, Gerber, Heinz, Seagram's, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, North America's largest potato processor, and the entire sugar industry want non-GE crops. - B (j)(iii)
6.    Over 30 patents have already been issued for Terminator and Traitor technology, which is designed to make farmers chemically dependent and prevent them from saving their own seeds. This is the most transparently greedy and ecologically dangerous technology of all. The Intellectual Property regime of the free trade agreement is bringing about patenting of staple food crops. This is a human rights issue particularly in the third world where most of the world's people live. Over 1.4 billion farmers save seed as away of life. They cannot afford to go back to market every year nor can they afford to buy pesticides and herbicides & risk becoming caught in a chain of biological and licensing laws. Ninety percent of the world's biological wealth is in the developing countries in the South. Yet industrialised countries hold 97% of all patents worldwide and are driving the rush to patent genetic resources. In August 2000, a UN Human Rights Committee adopted a resolution calling into question the IPR regime and its effects on basic human rights to food and livelihoods. This resolution affirms the primacy of human rights and environmental obligations over the commercial, profit-driven motives. The resolution calls on governments to conduct socio-economic and environmental impacts studies on all policies. - B(f)
7.    PIRM questions the legality of approving GMOs while the WAI 262 Claim is proceeding. The Crown must respect the vital aspects of Maori culture, such as mauri and whakapapa. - B(g)
8.    Genetically Engineered Foods Are Being Rejected by Consumers The British and Portuguese Medical Associations are calling for a global moratorium on the planting of GE crops. Research in Great Britain has shown that rats developed tumours when fed GE potatoes. Research also shows that incidences of soy food allergies have increased corresponding with the sale of Roundup Ready soybeans. GE crops contain antibiotic resistance marker genes, bacteria genes, and virus genes. None of these have ever before been part of the ecosystem or the human diet. Germany has banned all planting, growing, and selling of GE corn produced by Novartis, based on research published in Freiburg, Germany, that showed the GE corn can cancel out the effect of antibiotic treatments for illnesses because the corn has been modified to resist certain antibiotics. - B(i) , B(j)(iii)
10.  Genetic Engineering Raises a Host of Unanswered Questions
-    What are the long-term impacts of increased Bt toxins on soil
-    What are the impacts of one spliced gene on a target organism's
-    What are the impacts on the ecosystem into which the transgenic
-    What are the impacts on livestock which consume GE proteins?
-    Why do cows, when given the choice between GE corn fodder and
-    Could there be a relationship between GE crops and frog
11.  The scientific evidence regarding the risks of genetic modification, the lack of research into impacts, and consideration of the impacts, locally and globally, of its commercial application warrant a very precautionary approach. This means much more research before proceeding with further commercialisation, in fact a moratorium on commercialisation of GM in agriculture.
12.  A primary reason PIRM was created was because it was felt that New Zealand, had the potential to provide an example to the world of sustainable management of natural resources, as we do not as yet suffer some of the worst effects of heavy industrialisation such as acid rain.
13.  It would be a great pity to see our status as a country admired internationally for its green reputation, being lost forever in the foolish pursuit of an unnecessary and at this stage infant technology in agriculture. A great opportunity lies in New Zealand seeing the strategic option lies in developing ecological methods of agricultural production. Not only would this would be to the advantage of protecting the environment from potentially irreversible damage, it would also take advantage of the heightened awareness of consumers worldwide about food safety issues, and the desire of consumers everywhere for organic food, uncontaminated by either pesticide residues or genetically modified ingredients. - B(i), B(l), B(m).
Submission by Section
Section A (1) Summary
14.  In view of the magnitude of identified risks and also lack of knowledge about the behaviour of genetically modified organisms in the environment, PIRM advocates that in the present state of knowledge, there should be no release of GMOs to the environment. In all uses of genetic modification techniques, strong precautionary principles should apply.
15.  In May 1999 the British Medical Association released a report, The Impact of Genetic Modification on Agriculture, Food & Health which says detailed research is needed into the possible toxicity of GM food & whether it could lead to the possibility of new allergies & antibiotic resistance in humans that could increase vulnerability to diseases such as meningitis. Meningitis is already on the increase in New Zealand. This paper also casts doubt on using data from the US where GM crops are already grown. The threat to Britain may be greater according to the report as the country is smaller & fields closer together. New Zealand is also much smaller than the US so we too are more vulnerable when things go wrong with GM crops.
16.  As well, the British government's Chief Scientific Adviser & Chief Medical Officer have recommended ministers setting up a panel to see if eating GE food could cause birth defects, the creation of new cancers & damage to the immune system. This is probably as a result of research leaked by British scientist Arpad Pusztai in 1998 who was forced to resign his job at the Rowett Institute in Scotland. However a review of his research by 21 leading scientists prompted them to call for his reinstatement. They say the modified potatoes influenced the growth, metabolism and immune functioning of rats. Similar effects in humans could lead to a huge increase in cancers and deaths.
17.  Current security measures for research and production with genetic modification are based on earlier assumptions about the survival and transfer abilities of micro-organisms. Those assumptions have been shown to be wrong. GMOs can survive or transfer their transgenes to indigenous organisms; DNA taken up with food has been found to enter white blood cells and spleen and liver cells. DNA can even be transferred to the cells of foetuses as has been shown in new born mice. (Doerfler & Schubert, 1997)
18.  Also there are now nucleic acid constructs containing sequences which contribute not only to effective replication in different cellular backgrounds but also to stability and integration via recombination, transfer and extraordinary expression. They are - especially designed to do this.
19.  Laboratory or in situ model-based studies on survival, DNA persistence and gene transfer are no perfect scale for measuring what happens in complex terrestrial, aquatic environments and digestive systems. Our knowledge about the "avenues and barriers for genetic transmission" (Istock 1991 Genetic exchange and stability in bacterial populations. In R. Ginsbburg ed. Assessing Ecological Risks of Beiotechnology, Stoneham, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann, pp123-150) which exist in natural environments is limited.
20.  The microbial populations in the environment serve as a gene transfer highway enabling genes to be replicated, recombined, to spread from non-pathogens to pathogens and to infect all other organisms. The release of genetically engineered micro-organisms is especially hazardous. Yet such transgenic micro-organisms may already have been and continue to be released in large quantities from commercial scale "contained" users.
21.  New evidence suggests that current knowledge of evolutionary theory is inadequate to predict the fate of recombinant organisms or recombinant genes (Heinemann, 1997, Assessing the Risk of Interkingdom DNA Transfer. The Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board 17-28.) As Dr Beatrix. Tappeser says in her 1998 paper Survival, Persistence, Transfer, - An Update on Current Knowledge of GMOs: "Genes currently perceived as harmless like many enzyme-coding genes (or the organisms containing them) may alter soil chemistry and so create selective pressure or conditions favourable to the survival of GMOs, (see Holmes 1994 and for a review Doyle et al 1995). Moreover there is no way to extrapolate from one region or environment to another, differing environment. This is especially true when GMOs are transferred to ecosystems and climates which differ from those where they were first developed and used. This is acknowledged for deliberate release but also holds true for contained use in production plants with multiple pathways for escape.
22.  This means putting a stop to deregulation in favour of contained use and to tolerated releases from production plants where environmental impacts are not routinely assessed. Unless there is sufficient scientific evidence that a GMO or its recombinant genes will not pose any environmental stress or health impact we should abide by the precautionary approach.
Section A (2) Summary
23.  In the light of rapidly changing technology, and environmental and social contexts there is a need for continuing reassessment of gene modification. PIRM urges the creation of a permanent agency, including government, NGOS, and scientists independent of the biotech industry interests, to undertake this ongoing reasssessment.
24.  We are concerned that the present regulatory authorities do not adequately address the precautionary approach in their assessments and enforcements.
25.  Recent research over the last few years, included in the works of Drs BeatrixTappeser, Mae Wan Ho, Vandana Shiva, Margaret Mellon, Jane Rissler, & Arpad Putzai to name a few, shows major dangers with genetic technologies, through horizontal gene transfer, allergies, contamination of organic crops and non-target species, destruction of biodiversity. Adding to the dangers is the fact that risk assessments are far from adequate since they are not based on up-to-date knowledge; and because risk assessment is based on the assumption that there is no difference between genetically engineered varieties and ordinary varieties.
26.  These assumptions means risk assessments for both crop trials and food releases are inadequately designed and monitored for safety. Crop trials are based on the don't need, don't look basis, as cited by Mellon and Risler in 1995 (Mellon, M and Risler, J. 1995). According to their analysis, the USDA approved 850 applications over 2000 fields tests since 1987. Until May 1984, the USDA received only 269 reports on the field tests, but only 139 were available to the public.
27.  Transgenic crops have not been shown to be safe in any country in the world as field trials have been inadequately designed and monitored to collect data. The databases dealing with long-term effects are especially inadequate, often because many release experiments are carried out without accompanying research into ecological impacts (Bergschmidt, 1995 A Comparative analysis of releases of GMOs in different EU member states, UBA Texte 57/95; Umweltbundesamt, Berlin). Seidler & Levin also state that little data exists that describe the ecology of transgenic plants (1994 Potential ecological & non-target effects of transgenic plants on agriculture, siviculture and natural ecosystems: general introduction. Molecular Ecology: 3: 1-32).
28.  Yet it is only proper risk assessment procedures that provide reliable knowledge and engender public trust.
29.  Because of lack of knowledge about impacts time is needed to redesign risk assessment with a comprehensive framework for impact assessment, monitoring and enforcement measures. In this way a culture of safety may be developed. Microcosm and mesocosm studies imitating natural conditions as accurately as possible are needed as a means of testing and getting some sort of understanding of the influence of some of the biotic and abiotic factors operating on GMOs in natural environments (Pickup et al 1993 Development of molecular methods for the detection of specific bacteria in the environment, Journal of General Microbiology 137, 1009-1019.; Spielman et al1996 Draft - Assessment of GEOs in the Environment: The Puget Sound Workshop Biosafety Handbook, Edmonds Institute). Selective forces which may act on the spread of GMOs is an area which has been neglected in study designs. In disturbed or polluted environments, contaminants such as heavy metals or high salt concentrations may possibly facilitate gene transfer.
30.  It is essential that there is a commission with powers to fund independent research to address biological risks posed by genetic modification.
Section B (a) Summary
31.  The ERMA Bulletin documents an explosion of genetic modification projects in Aotearoa. Much of this is explorative work involving genomic DNA.
32.  GM food infiltrated this country without agreement and no regulatory systems in place.
33.  The explosion of applications for projects to ERMA, show the high level of activity in Aotearoa/New Zealand regarding GM. How can ERMA and Ministry of Agriculture cope with proper monitoring of all these projects? Despite PIRM asking for copies of reports on results of GM trials in 1998, we have yet to see even one. We are very concerned that neither ERMA nor Ministry of Agriculture are adequately resourced to do the work required to keep up with the level of activity, either assessing applications or monitoring, in this country, yet activities continue to escalate.
34.  Do we have risk assessment procedures available for monitoring the fate of GMOs? Do we have enough ecologists in the country to cope with the plethora of tests already taking place? Are we capable of detecting ecological impacts or health impacts at an early stage?
35.  Genetically modified food infiltrated the food supply in New Zealand with no agreement of the government or people of this country. There were also no regulatory or monitoring systems in place for assessment of GM food when GM food was dumped into our food supply. There was no assessment, or regulatory agreement for this food, showing the undemocratic nature of our trading partner and major producer of this food the United States of America. This is an example of a technology being imposed in a highly sensitive area the food supply in a runaway, out of control fashion without due regard for human rights and the precautionary approach.
Section B (b) Summary
36.  There will be a high level of uncertainty about present and future use of GM products while there is inadequate determination of the provenance of such materials and a less than fully informative labelling regimen. - refer also B(j)(i) & B (j)(ii)
37.  A recent example of the out of control nature of GM is the GM material which infiltrated the food supply of animals and also taco. Countries are unsure about whether or not it is in their food supply, including here in New Zealand.
38.  During the last 15 years there has been according to the 1996 WHO Report an increase in the frequency of outbreaks of new and re-emerging infectious diseases often resistant to known treatments with antibiotics. Is the extensive use antibiotic resistance genes in genetic engineering over the last several years contributing to the increase in frequency of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens?
39.  What is the frequency of horizontal gene transfer to microbes, fungi and other organisms capable of acting as secondary vectors for transferring genes to other plants and animals?
40.  What is the probability that transgenes and associated antibiotic resistance marker genes survive in the environmental microbial populations?
41.  What is the probability that recombination events in the microbial populations can generate or regenerate pathogens from the disabled vectors?
42.  Genetic Engineering Raises a Host of Unanswered Questions
-    What are the long-term impacts of increased Bt toxins on soil
-    What are the impacts of one spliced gene on a target organism's
-    What are the impacts on the ecosystem into which the transgenic
-    What are the impacts on livestock which consume GE proteins?
-    Why do cows, when given the choice between GE corn fodder and
-    Why do farmers complain about burning lungs after breathing Bt
-    Could there be a relationship between GE crops and frog
-    Shouldn't sound science be used to establish a product's safety
Section B (c) Summary
43.  The risks of GM are inherent in the technology. There may be short-term commercial benefits to some users and health benefits to recipients of GM medications. At this point there is no knowledge of long-term impacts in any application. Disadvantages here would involve the population as a whole in the event of ecological impacts, or consumers in the event of health impacts. There are risks associated with GM in agriculture and food which are too dangerous to consider for commercial applications.
44.  Avoidance of GM in agriculture incurs no risks as presently there is a positive consumer choice for non-GM products. Avoidance would develop sustainable agricultural systems and improve our clean green image and long-term sustainability of Aotearoa, to the general benefit of society and our trading potential.
45.  There may be short-term monetary gains to biotech companies such as Monsanto, Du Pont etc and similarly short-term gains for scientists involved in working on GM applications
46.  In agriculture there are serious risks being documented of losses to:
-    Biodiversity, dangers of destabilising ecosystems;
-    Serious loss of food security in the third world food - where most of
-    Loss of democratic control of food safety & security issues for
-    Risks to livestock;
-    Risks to food security through some GM disaster in agriculture
-    Losses to organic farmers through GM farming infiltrating organic
-    Losses for farmers through global population unwilling to eat
Section B (d) Summary
47.  The Biosafety Protocol under the Convention on Biological Biodiversity with its guiding principle, the Precautionary Principle over-rides trade obligations regarding GM in New Zealand, as well as other countries.
48.  There are international obligations under Human Rights conventions which need to be reassessed for socio-economic and environmental impacts in view of serious negative impacts on food security via GM in the third world. - See Human Rights Sub-Commission statement 17 August 2000 in Section B(f)
Section B (e) Summary
49.  Liability and compensation clauses should be incorporated in any legislation relating to the use of gene technology as the risk of harm from this emerging technology is transnational in character and major in degree.
50.  The state should be originally responsible and made liable for all activities carried out by private entrepreneurs. Those who profit from or sponsor an activity should bear the responsibility. With strict liability the State/operator of the activity will have the incentive to take the utmost precaution for the safety of others. Nuclear conventions provide that the State bears ultimate responsibility if the operator is unable to make full payment. Conventions imply that unless agreed to by the contracting parties, the State will be originally responsible for activities conducted by private entrepreneurs or organisations within its boundaries. International law jurisprudence also imposes original State responsibility for the harm caused by abnormally dangerous activities regardless of ownership. Fixing a time limit for commencement of liability is complex with regard to damage especially with gene technology. The injury may have occurred without the victim knowing. To avoid complication, the limitation should run from the time when the victim knew or could reasonably have known of the harm or injury.
51.  There should be no limitation on the amount recoverable in a protocol aimed at promoting safety of this technology. This will encourage operators and States to incorporate safe methods and tests in their operations and products. (Liability & Compensation in a Biosafety Protocol GS Nijar, Third World Network paper 4)
Section B (f) Summary
52.  On August 17, 2000 in Geneva, an important UN human rights body unanimously adopted a resolution calling into question the impact of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)'s Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights (known as TRIPS) on the human rights of peoples and communities, including farmers and indigenous peoples worldwide.
53.  The resolution signals a growing concern about an industry-driven intellectual property agreement that protects corporate patents around the world, sometimes at the expense of national economic and health concerns. The TRIPs agreement sets international rules to protect patents in a whole host of sectors, but it is particularly important for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
54.  In the unprecedented resolution, the UN Sub-Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights pointed out the dire consequences on the human rights to food, health and self-determination if the TRIPS Agreement is implemented in its current form. Reminding governments of the primacy of human rights obligations over economic policies and programmes, the resolution states that there are "apparent conflicts between the intellectual property rights regime embodied in the TRIPS Agreement, on the one hand, and international human rights law, on the other."
55.  Basing itself on the provisions of both the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, "this historic resolution has affirmed the primacy of human rights and environmental obligations over the commercial and profit driven motives upon which agreements such as TRIPS are based," Kothari added. Kristin Dawkins of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy welcomed the Sub-Commission resolution, calling it "a courageous act in today's political climate." She noted the role of the pharmaceutical industry in the drafting of the TRIPS Agreement, commenting that "the TRIPS requirements for an 'effective' system of intellectual property protection for plant varieties could violate Farmers' Rights to save, exchange, re-use and sell seed from their own harvests."
56.  Already in the United States, the Monsanto Company (recently acquired by Pharmacia, Inc.) has employed Pinkerton detectives to find and prosecute farmers who are harvesting seed from its patented crops. If replicated throughout the world, such enforcement of intellectual property rights would violate the human rights of hundreds of millions of farming families who depend on recycling seed for survival." This, Dawkins said, "would constitute a direct violation of Article 1 of The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which stipulates that: "In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence."
57.  Simon Walker of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that the TRIPS Agreement's requirement that pharmaceuticals be patented by all WTO Members might be appropriate for countries with high levels of investment in medical research. "But,", he asked, "is it suitable for countries with a high level of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis infection that have not yet developed a pharmaceutical research base? For these countries, access to drugs - rather than innovation of drugs - is the imperative. Given that there is a link between patent protection and higher prices for pharmaceuticals, the grant of private property rights could be detrimental to public health - and development in general - in these countries."
58.  Stressing that intellectual property rights have to serve public benefit, and concerned by the true motives of the TRIPS agreement, the resolution calls upon governments to integrate into their national and local legislation and policies provisions that, in accordance with international human rights instruments and principles, protect the social function of intellectual property.
59.     The following is the text of the Resolution by the
THE REALIZATION OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS Intellectual Property Rights and Human Rights
The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, 52nd Session Agenda item 4
60.  Reaffirming that, as declared in article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration can be fully realised,
61.  Stressing the need to work towards the realisation for all people and communities of the rights, including to food, housing, work, health and education, enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Recalling its resolutions 1998/8, 1998/12, 1999/8, 1999/29 and 1999/30, and resolution 1999/59 of the Commission on Human Rights,
62.  Noting the statement of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to the Third Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation WTO) (26/11/99.E/C.12/1999/9),
63.  Welcoming the preliminary report submitted by J. Oloka-Onyango and D. Udagama on "Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights"; (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/13),
64.  Noting the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which echoes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the right to self-determination and on the balance of rights and duties inherent in the protection of intellectual property rights, and its provisions relating to, inter alia, the safeguarding of biological diversity and indigenous knowledge relating to biological diversity, and the promotion of the transfer of environmentally sustainable technologies,
65.  Aware of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and of its current review by the World Trade Organisation Council on TRIPS,
66.  Aware also of the panel discussion organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation on 9 November 1998 on "Intellectual Property and Human Rights";
67.  Noting the Human Development Reports 1999 and 2000, which identify circumstances attributable to the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement that constitute contraventions of international human rights law,
68.  Noting also that members of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, participants at the World Intellectual Property Organisation Roundtables on Intellectual Property and Indigenous Peoples (23-24 July 1998 and 1-2 November 1999), and representatives of indigenous peoples have called for adequate protection of the traditional knowledge and cultural values of indigenous peoples,
69.  Noting furthermore that actual or potential conflicts exist between the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights in relation to, inter alia, impediments to the transfer of technology to developing countries, the consequences for the enjoyment of the right to food of plant variety rights and the patenting of genetically modified organisms, "bio-piracy" and the reduction of communities' (especially indigenous communities') control over their own genetic and natural resources and cultural values, and restrictions on access to patented pharmaceuticals and the implications for the enjoyment of the right to health,
1. Affirms that the right to protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which one is the author is, in accordance with article 27, paragraph 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 15, paragraph 1 c), of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a human right, subject to limitations in the public interest;
2. Declares, however, that since the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement does not adequately reflect the fundamental nature and indivisibility of all human rights, including the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, the right to health, the right to food, and the right to self-determination, there are apparent conflicts between the intellectual property rights regime embodied in the TRIPS Agreement, on the one hand, and international human rights law, on the other;
3. Reminds all Governments of the primacy of human rights obligations over economic policies and agreements;
4. Requests all Governments and national, regional and international economic policy forums to take international human rights obligations and principles fully into account in international economic policy formulation;
5. Requests Governments to integrate into their national and local legislations and policies, provisions, in accordance with international human rights obligations and principles, that protect the social function of intellectual property;
6. Further requests inter-governmental organisations to integrate into their policies, practices and operations, provisions, in accordance with international human rights obligations and principles, that protect the social function of intellectual property;
7. Calls upon States Parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to fulfil the duty under articles 2, paragraph 1, 11, paragraph 2, and 15, paragraph 4, to cooperate internationally in order to realise the legal obligations under the Covenant, including in the context of international intellectual property regimes;
8. Requests the World Trade Organisation, in general, and the Council on TRIPS during its ongoing review of the TRIPS Agreement, in particular, to take fully into account the existing State obligations under international human rights instruments;
9. Requests the Special Rapporteurs on globalisation and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights to include consideration of the human rights impact of the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in their next report;
10. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake an analysis of the human rights impacts of the TRIPS Agreement;
11. Encourages the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to clarify the relationship between intellectual property rights and human rights, including through the drafting of a general comment on this subject;
12. Recommends to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme and other relevant United Nations agencies that they continue and deepen their analysis of the impacts of the TRIPS Agreement, including a consideration of its human rights implications;
13. Commends the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity for its decision to assess the relationship between biodiversity concerns and intellectual property rights, in general, and between the Convention on Biodiversity and TRIPS, in particular, and urges it also to consider human rights principles and instruments in undertaking this assessment;
14. Encourages the relevant civil society organizations to promote with their respective Governments the need for economic policy processes fully to integrate and respect existing human rights obligations, and to continue to monitor and publicize the effects of economic policies that fail to take such obligations into account;
15. Asks the Secretary-General to provide a report on this question at its next session.
17th August, 2000 [Adopted without a vote]
70.  For more information on the work of both the UN Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and INCHRITI, please contact:
Source: Kristin Dawkins, Vice President for International Programs Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Section B (g) Summary
71.  The Crown must respect the intellectual, cultural and property rights that flow from the Treaty of Waitangi and pay attention to vital and relevant aspects of Maori culture such as mauri and whakapapa.
72.  We question the legality of approving genetically modified organisms while the WAI 262 Indigenous Flora and Fauna Claim is still proceeding.
73.  Section 8 of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO), states that, "all persons exercising powers and functions under the Act shall take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi."
74.  Maori are well aware and concerned at multinational companies interests in the genetic code of the flora and fauna of Aotearoa/NZ. This was the reason for lodging the Wai 262 Indigenous Flora and Fauna Claim.
75.  There are also statutory requirements under Section 5, 6(d), HSNO and obligations under various international agreements for example the UN Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights, Agenda 21.
76.  Even with its current legislative structure and the advice of Nga Kaihautu Tikanga Taiaio, ERMA cannot adequately address many of the concerns Maori have expressed in terms of intellectual and cultural property and treaty rights. These are outstanding issues which need to be addressed.
Section B (h) Summary
Section B (i) Summary
77.  If New Zealand rejects the use of GM food products and markets itself as an organic country, we would open up burgeoning markets where people are prepared to pay premium prices for the guarantee that their food is GM-free.
78.  Consumer resistance to genetically modified food and food with chemical or hormonal additives is growing, in Europe, Japan, the United States and in New Zealand. In the third world there have been massive demonstrations against the introduction of genetically modified crops.
79.  People are understandably questioning the way food is produced after ongoing outbreaks of Creutfeld Jakob Disease in Britain, tragically killing young and old alike. Scientists said that mad cow disease could not be transferred to humans, that it was scientifically impossible. Now it is a time bomb in the human population. New Zealanders who were in Britain during certain years for a length of time, can no longer give blood in New Zealand, because of the link with CJD - a disease which "scientifically" could not happen. Mad cow disease and the transference of CJD to humans happened through treating animals inappropriately, a result of industrial agriculture. There is a lesson here about the need to take a very precautionary approach with genetic modification of agriculture and food, and listen to the science critics rather than those involved in the industry in some way. Note Peter Wills, evidence. Peter is an expert on prion diseases.
80.  There have been other food scandals, such as Belgian farmers giving feed laced with dioxin to their animals. In France toxic sludge was used as a filler in stock feed for animals used for human consumption. Many people rights are also scared of additives and pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones in food.
81.  Research has found that mixtures of chemicals can be more potent than each individual one. An Italian study, for example found that a mixture of 15 different pesticides commonly used in food caused liver and free radical damage of DNA even at low doses.(Lodovic et al 1994 Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology & Oncology 13-3 pp 163-168).
82.  With consumer awareness naturally heightened about dangerous food production methods, genetic modification of food is viewed as yet another dangerous, unnecessary meddling with food, with potentially disastrous and irreversible consequences involved.
83.  Consumers worldwide are prepared to pay high prices for food which is organic, free of pesticides, pollutants, and without the high risks which genetically modified food clearly present. The time is RIPE for New Zealand to develop sound safe ecological methods of producing food for our own people and the people of the world, who are weary of being used so cynically as guinea pigs in the industrial factory farming methods of conventional agriculture.
Section B (j) Summary
84.  As an organisation concerned with protection of the environment, human justice and democracy, our analysis suggests that in the areas of human health and environmental and economic concerns, the risks of GM technology in its current state of development outweigh potential benefits.
85.  Technological development in GM and pressure for its practical application have outstripped the development of an ethical and regulatory framework, to ensure its wise use.
86.  Research in Britain has shown that rats developed tumours when fed GM potatoes. Research also shows that incidences of soy food allergies have increased corresponding with the sale of Roundup Ready soybeans. GE crops contain antibiotic resistance marker genes, bacteria genes and virus genes. None of these have ever been part of the ecosystem or the human diet.
87.  Our witness Dr Joan Mattingley-Cameron wishes to take issue with the claims that it is too difficult to detect small quantities of GM products.
88.  More research is clearly needed before further commercialisation of GM food and agriculture. Additionally GM food which has already unfortunately infiltrated our food supply should be withdrawn. This is for the benefit of the entire population but particularly the young, the elderly and those whose health is compromised in some way, for example through illness.
89.  STUDY LINKS MONSANTO'S ROUNDUP TO CANCER
A study by eminent oncologists Dr Lennart Hardell and Dr Mikael Eriksson of Sweden , has revealed clear links between one of the world's biggest selling herbicide, to non-Hodgkins' lymphoma, a form of cancer . In the study published in the March 1999 Journal of American Cancer Society, the researchers also maintain that exposure to glyphosate "yielded increased risks for NHL." They stress that with the rapidly increasing use of glyphosate since the time the study was carried out, "glyphosate deserves further epideomologic studies." Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, is the world's most widely used herbicide. It indiscriminately kills off a wide variety of weeds after application and is primarily used to control annual and perennial plants. Seventy-one percent of engineered crops planted in 1998 are designed to be resistant to herbicides, such as glyphosate marketed by Monsanto as Roundup. Companies have also requested permits for higher residues of these chemicals in GE foods. For example, Monsanto has received permits for a 3-fold increase in herbicide residues on GE soybeans in Europe and the US, up from 6 parts per million, (ppm) to 20 ppm.
90.  [Here in New Zealand, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, ANZFA, asked for submissions in 1997 on its application FOR A HUGE increase in residues of glyphosate in engineered soybeans. PIRM was one of the organisations that sent in a submission demanding the application be withdrawn and asking what benefit it was for consumers to have such a huge increase in residues of a toxic substance in food. The application has been withdrawn but is the level of glyphosate simply increasing and going untested as GM soyflour drifts haplessly through our food supply?]
91.  Increased residues of glyphosate and its metabolites are already on sale via GE soya, common in processed foods. The US Department of Agriculture statistics from 1997 show that expanded planting of Roundup Ready soybeans (i.e. soybeans GE to be tolerant to the herbicide) resulted in a 72% increase in the use of glyphosate. According to Pesticides Action Network, scientists estimate that plants engineered to be herbicide resistant will actually triple the amount of herbicides used. Farmers knowing that there crop can tolerate or resist being killed off by the herbicides will tend to use them more liberally.
92. According to Sadhbh O'Neill of Genetic Concern: "The EPA when authorising Monsanto's field trials for Roundup-ready sugarbeet, did not consider the issue of glyphosate. They considered this to be the remit of the Pesticides Control Service of the Dept of Agriculture. Thus nobody has included the effects of increasing the use of glyphosate in the risk/benefit analysis carried out. It is yet another example of how regulatory authorities supposedly protecting public health have failed to implement the "precautionary principle" with respect to GMOs.
93.  Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD. Dept of Oncology, Orebro Medical Centre, Orebro, Sweden & Mikael Erikkkson, MD, PhD, Dept of Oncology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, "A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma & Exposure to Pesticides, Cancer, March 15, 1999. Vol 85 No 6. The findings are based on a population-based case-control study conducted in Sweden between 1987-1990. The necessary data was ascertained by a series of comprehensive questionnaires and follow-up interviews. Dr Hardell and Dr Erikkson found that "exposure to herbicides and fungicides resulted in significantly increased risks for NHL."
94.  Lymphoma is a form of cancer that afflicts the lymphatic system. It can occur at virtually any part of the body but the initial symptoms are usually seen as swellings around the lymph nodes at the base of the neck. There are basically two main types of lymphoma, i.e.Hodgkins disease and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
95. Shouldn't sound science be used to establish a product's safety BEFORE it is released into the food chain?
96. The incidence of NHL has increased rapidly in most western countries over the last few decades. According to the American Cancer Society, there has been an alarming 80% increase in incidences of NHL since the early 1970s.
97. The British and Portuguese Medical Associations are calling for a global moratorium on the planting of GM crops.
98. While genetic constructs are well understood in terms of their content, information as to their behaviour in context - genomic, cellular, ecological and evolutionary - is almost entirely lacking. Until more information in these areas is acquired, we cannot ensure the safety of their release into the environment at large.
99.  Round-Up Ready Soybean Study Shows Reduced
Studies by Dr Charles Benbrook on the consequences of the Roundup Ready Soybean yield drag from university-based varietal trials in1998 reviewed the results of over 8200 university-based soybean varietal trials. The yield drag between top RR varieties compared to top conventional varieties averaged 4.6 bushels per acre, or 6.7 percent. When comparing average yields across the top 5 varieties tested in 8 states, the yield drag averaged 4.1 bushels, or 6.1 percent. Across all varieties tested, the yield drag averaged 3.1 bushels, or 5.3 percent. In some areas of the Midwest, the best conventional variety sold by seed companies produced yields on average 10 percent or more higher than comparable Roundup Ready varieties sold by the same seed companies.
100. The remarkable popularity of Roundup Ready soybeans, despite their cost and the significant yield drag associated with their use, was evidence of the difficulty and high cost of today's herbicide-dependent soybean weed management systems. The rapid evolution of weeds better able to withstand applications of Roundup reinforces the need for more integrated, multiple-tactic weed management systems.
101.     On Monarch Butterflies, GM Corn & US Guinea Pigs
Michael Fumento declares, in a June 5 column, that monarch butterflies have little to fear from pollen of genetically engineered corn. Fumento suggests that humans have nothing to fear as well. Fumento is correct in stating that the Cornell University study did not duplicate field conditions. However, Fumento errs in rejecting the possibility that monarchs in the wild eating milkweed near cornfields would be affected. No studies have been conducted to examine this.
102. Fumento disingenuously describes genetically engineered crops as simply a more sophisticated form of the traditional agricultural practice of crossbreeding plants. It is not. Genetic engineering splices the DNA from one organism into the DNA of another, creating organisms that would never occur in nature. Very little testing has been conducted on the human and ecosystem health implications of genetically engineered crops. The effects on monarchs are but one of what could be many unpleasant surprises to come. New food allergies, antibiotic resistance in consumers and "superweeds" inadvertently created from pesticide-resistant seeds are all possible consequences from this new technology.
103. The monarch fiasco points to a more general concern: why do we not know about the possible effects of genetic engineering? Through cuts in regulatory budgets and the migration of industry representatives between government and biotechnology companies, the U.S. government has largely abdicated its regulatory power to industry.
104. According to documents obtained in a class action lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency chose to disregard its own scientists' concerns. In 1992 genetically engineered foods were deemed equivalent to conventional foods, thus eliminating the requirements for pre-market testing and labelling. These crops are now in a large percentage of processed foods in US stores. US consumers should not serve as substitute guinea pigs for the field test of genetically engineered foods.
Gabriela Flora, Program Associate on Agricultural Biotechnologies and Mark Ritchie, President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Wall Street Journal Op-ed July 13, 1999.
105.   Report of Gene Transfer from GE Rapeseed
The German Television station ZDF reported on Sunday May 21, 2000 that a German researcher found a gene transfer from genetically engineered rapeseed to bacteria and fungi in the gut of honey bees. Prof. Hans-Hinrich Kaatz from the Institut für Bienenkunde (Institute for bee research) at the University of Jena experimented during the last three years with honey-bees on an experimental field with transgenic rapeseed in Saxony, Germany.
106. The field trial was performed by AgrEvo, the rapeseed was engineered to resist the herbicide glufosinate (Liberty, Basta). Prof. Kaatz built nets in the field with the transgenic rapeseed and let the bees fly freely Within the net. At the beehives, he installed pollen traps in order to sample the pollen loads from the bees' hindlegs when entering the hive. This pollen was fed to young honey bees in the laboratory. (Pollen is the natural diet of young bees which need a high protein diet). Then Prof. Kaatz took the intestine out of the young bees and spread the contents on growth medium to grow the micro-organisms. He probed the micro-organisms for the pat-gene, the gene that confers resistance to glufosinate. In some bacteria and also in a yeast he found the pat-gene. This indicates that the gene from the genetically engineered rapeseed was transferred in the bee's gut to the microbes.
107. Dr Beatrix Tappeser of the Oeko Institute in Freiburg, Germany who commented on this latest finding on risk research in Germany on German television, said later that Professor Kaatz had submitted his research to the science journal, Nature, but they had refused to accept it. - Dr. Beatrix Tappeser,
108.    Bt Crops killing organisms in soil
Toxins from genetically engineered Bt crops accumulate in the soil, killing organisms and altering soil ecology, according to research at New York University. The GE Bt toxin was found to exude from the roots of living Bt corn plants. After 234 days, the toxin had not degraded. The research abstract concludes: "there may be a risk that non-target insects and organisms in higher trophic levels could be affected by the toxin." This is a huge, and previously unanticipated, issue. Genetically engineered Bt toxin is significantly different from the topically applied Bt sprays which have been used by organic growers for 50 years. Natural Bt must be digested by an insect and react with enzymes and digestive acids in order to be toxic. Left on plants, it degrades under UV light in a matter of days. GE Bt is an active toxin found in every cell of the altered plant. It is not dependent on digestive enzymes and acids to become actively toxic, and it does not degrade in UV light.
109. As confirmed by the EPA's recently published restrictions on Bt corn, it is inevitable that insecticidal GE crops will result in pesticide resistant pests, because the GE toxins are present in every cell of every plant at all times. Any biologist or entomologist knows that this is a recipe for resistance. As insects develop resistance, organic growers will likely lose access to a previously effective, selective, least-toxic, and natural pesticide. Research in Canada shows that herbicide resistant canola cross-pollinates with wild and domestic relatives, creating "superweeds" which are resistant to herbicides. And despite what the biotech industry would like us to believe, farmers are spending more on pesticides than ever before. Source Jim Riddle - Founding President Independent Organic Inspectors Association and member US delegation to Codex Commission on Food labelling.
B (j)(iii) Economic matters
110.    GE Crops Are Bad for the US Economy
Jim Riddle, chair of the Minesota Department of Agriculture's Advisory Task Force warns us that US corn exports to Europe dropped by 96% in 1999 because the US cannot provide non-GE corn. US soybean sales to Europe dropped from $2.1 billion in 1996 to $1.1 billion in 1999. Genetic engineering is part of a failed farm policy which is driving farmers off the land. The USDA predicts corn prices below $2/bu through at least 2001 and soybean prices below $5/bu through 2004. Major buyers in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Mexico don't want GE crops. Domestic buyers, including Frito-Lay, Gerber, Heinz, Seagram's, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, North America's largest potato processor, and the entire sugar industry want non-GE crops.
111.    GE Crops are Having a Negative Effect on Family Farmers
GE seeds cost more, yet may yield less. Forty research plots in 1999 showed that Roundup Ready soybeans yielded 4% less than non-GE varieties. The November 1, 1999, issue of Chemical and Engineering News reported that DuPont and Monsanto together own 73% of the seed corn companies in the U.S. Novartis, Dow, and Cargill own most of the rest. In the face of this concentration, farmers have few planting choices, and most of the best genetics are bundled with GE traits. For corn farmers, the share of a farmer's gross income spent on seed and chemicals has risen from 9.5% in 1975 to 16.9% in 1997. For soybean farmers, the share spent on seed and chemicals has risen from 10.8% to 16.3%.
112. Over 30 patents have already been issued for Terminator and Traitor technology, which is designed to make farmers chemically dependent and prevent them from saving their own seeds. This is the most transparently greedy and ecologically dangerous technology of all. Farmers who plant GE crops must sign licensing agreements allowing biotech companies unlimited access to their farms. The farmers don't buy the seed - they only lease the right to grow it. Farmers who save their own seeds are subject to investigation, harassment, and litigation by biotech companies. This is well documented. Farmers whose crops have been subjected to genetic drift have even been investigated and accused of saving GE seeds without having signed licensing agreements. Farmers are being exposed to unprecedented economic and environmental risks, with no protection from biotech companies. Biotech companies carry no insurance, because the insurance companies claim that genetic engineering is an "unquantifiable risk."
113. Farmers who plant GE crops may be liable for contamination of neighbouring non-GE and organic crops due to genetic drift. Genetic pollution is another unanticipated consequence of GE technology, especially for wind and insect pollinated crops such as corn, canola, potatoes, and squash. Genetic drift is a huge issue for organic growers, since genetic engineering is prohibited by all organic standards in the world, and consumers expect organic foods to be free of GE ingredients. The development of GE-free labels is not the answer. Segregation and certification of non-GE crops places the burden on farmers and consumers who want to avoid genetic engineering, rather than on the corporations who profit from the technology. On the other hand, a state-wide moratorium presents a huge economic opportunity for Iowa farmers and processors.
114.    Genetically Engineered Foods Are Being Rejected by
The British and Portuguese Medical Associations are calling for a global moratorium on the planting of GE crops. Research in Great Britain has shown that rats developed tumours when fed GE potatoes. Research also shows that incidences of soy food allergies have increased corresponding with the sale of Roundup Ready soybeans. GE crops contain antibiotic resistance marker genes, bacteria genes, and virus genes. None of these have ever before been part of the ecosystem or the human diet. Germany has banned all planting, growing, and selling of GE corn produced by Novartis, based on research published in Freiburg, Germany, that showed the GE corn can cancel out the effect of antibiotic treatments for illnesses because the corn has been modified to resist certain antibiotics.
115. GE crops have been rushed to market without proper testing, and with no labelling. The regulatory process has been shrouded in secrecy and conflict of interest. Under orders from Vice President Dan Quayle, the Food and Drug Administration ruled in 1992 that GE crops are "substantially equivalent" to regular crops and foods, and do not have to be safety tested or labelled, even though they contain unique, altered genes, and can be patented. The FDA's own researchers found that genetic engineering could have unpredictable consequences, and urged caution, yet their objections were over-ruled. To this day, there is still no sound science which proves GE crops are safe for the environment or human health. A January 1999 Time magazine poll revealed that 81% of respondents want genetically engineered foods to be labelled. A January 2000 MSNBC poll showed identical results.
116. The Mexican Senate just unanimously passed mandatory labelling legislation. The European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan already require genetically engineered foods to be labelled, a right recently confirmed by the United Nations BioSafety Protocol agreement.
Section B (k) Summary
117. Global food security is a key strategic issue regarding genetic modification. This could become a major concern, either through the impact of promotion of GM in agriculture in the third world, which will bring about the demise of the livelihoods of billions of people in the developing world; OR because of some catastrophe affecting crops e.g. a virus through some GMO releases spreading horizontally across species, destroying food crops.
Section B (l) Summary
118. Some might say that it would be a catastrophe to reject development of genetic modification in agriculture and food for New Zealand. The threat of trade sanctions, of isolation, etc. However there is much to be gained through not succumbing to big power political games, and for New Zealand to dedicate itself to sustainable, ecological methods of agriculture and food production.
119. New Zealand forged for itself a highly respected place in the world community through not capitulating to pressure over the nuclear issue with the United States. If we were to reject the use of genetic modification in agriculture and food, there would be enormous support in the world community. We would once again be a leader in the world, and provide an example in sound, sustainable agricultural practice. This is the sort of vision which New Zealand has been sorely lacking of recent years and one which could not only restore our soils and biodiversity, but also our community.
Section B (m) Summary
120. The geographical isolation of New Zealand affords us a unique opportunity to avoid the adoption of GM in agriculture. The will allow us to protect a baseline resource that may be of great future importance. It would allow us a period of assessment of the impact of GM agriculture as revealed by overseas experience and experiments.
121. We may avoid the application of a technology in a relatively crude state of development that might compromise future applications. The targeted, integrated and precise application of this technology awaits the acquisition of much more knowledge of biological systems than we have at present.
Section B (n) Summary
123. We recommend a moratorium on release of GMOs in New Zealand is regulated; and also that the following measures are promoted by NZ in international fora to restore human rights for billions of people in the third world whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the Intellectual Property Rights regime now being promoted in food an pharmaceuticals.
124. In keeping with the UN Human Rights declaration, mentioned in B(f) PIRM in the interests of food security for the large proportion of the world's population who live in the 3rd world, suggest that the following measures are promoted by the NZ government in international fora.
- An amendment to Article 27.3 (b) of the trade related aspects of IPR (Trips) provision would enable WTO members to exclude all genetic resources for food and agriculture from the agreement.
- Call on WTO members to recognise the primacy of the Convention on Biological Diversity, over TRIPS. CBD gives national states sovereign rights over their biological resources and allows the protection of indigenous knowledge and rights.
- Call on governments to introduce a 5-year freeze on patenting in food and farming until the socio-economic and environmental impacts can be evaluated.
- Calls on companies who hold patents which could be substituted for southern crops to confirm that these patents will not be used in this way.
- Call on companies involved in patenting staple food crops to place that information in the public domain. Publicly funded human genome mapping projects have signed an accord to this effect, and negotiations are afoot for a US/UK "joint high-level statement of support. A similar accord should be signed to promote public research into the staple food crops.
- Call on companies wishing to introduce GM products to conduct full socio-economic and environmental impact assessments of those products.
- PIRM/Pacific Ecologist, POBox 12125, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand -