by Steffan Browning
AgResearch sacked a senior scientist, Dr Kardailsky, last year for allowing genetically engineered (GE/GM) ryegrass to flower without the use of the controls put in the trial, such as putting bags over any flowers to stop GE pollen spreading. Dr Kardailsky filed for unjustified dismissal as he questioned whether the plants were actually flowering and put the motivation for his dismissal down to staff tensions. However the Employment Relations Authority has found that AgResearch had grounds for his dismissal due to experimental safeguards not being followed.
That strict compliance of GE experiment controls is being enforced at AgResearch is very good news, and may be the way of the future there. If so, then AgResearch will need to reinstate the Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) monitoring at its GE animal facility at Ruakura, which was to ensure that risky pick up of genetic material from AgResearch’s experiments wasn’t crossing over to soil organisms.
We would like to see all GE field trials closed, as GE does not have a place in our environment.