In 2015, the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came under public fire for electing chief executive Allan Freeth, former CEO of PGG Wrightson and vocal supporter of genetic engineering.

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Allan Freeth

This is due to a strong conflict of interest previously supporting big biotech corporations like Monsanto, and now being in charge of protecting New Zealand’s environment from the same corporations that he used to work closely with.

It’s then of no surprise to see an EPA commissioned review of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the controversial Monsanto weed killer RoundUp, claim it is “unlikely” to be carcinogenic to humans.

Last year, PGG Wrightson took over exclusive wholesale rights to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Combine this with Freeth’s years spent in corporate boardrooms partnering with Monsanto, the conflict and bias becomes clear.

This is an excellent example of corporations exerting control over the science via calculated placement of figures into positions of power, despite obvious conflicts of interests.

Green MP Steffan Browning has been vocal on the topic, especially the appointment of Freeth to the EPA: “He was the person that bought genetic engineering to Wrightsons, and they’ve been the one that have been pushing for the forages particularly to be genetically engineered and was baiting his frustration with the regulatory position at the time that was holding up those things getting out into the environment effectively.”

The glyphosate report was produced by Dr Wayne Temple, a retired consultant toxicologist who has also recently produced a statement of evidence commissioned by Canterbury Aggregate Producers for their application to deepen Christchurch quarries below water table levels. This application has resulted in opposition by both Christchurch City Council (CCC) and Environment Canterbury (ECan), with the majority of public submissions received being in strong opposition to the deepening due to the potential damage the city’s water tables.

Wayne Temple

Rather than undertake New Zealand based research on glyphosate, Temple’s conclusions were formed through review of overseas studies. His opinion differs greatly to the findings of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which concluded through the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The IARC note that ‘glyphosate has been linked to tumors in mice and rats — and there is also what the IARC classifies as ‘mechanistic evidence’, such as DNA damage to human cells from exposure to glyphosate.

Kathryn Guyton, a senior toxicologist at the IARC and one of the authors of the study commented, “In the case of glyphosate, because the evidence in experimental animals was sufficient and the evidence in humans was limited, that would put the agent into group 2A.”

EPA manager of hazardous substances and new organisms Asela Atapattu suggested the reason for the commissioned report was to address New Zealand local councils’ growing concerns surrounding the currently popular weed killer by providing them with some ‘real science’.

It’s clear that in this case, ‘real science’ is simply a vested interest opinion commissioned by those with ties to the corporations who stand to lose millions in profit if glyphosate is banned, being lazily broadcast in the media by NZ Farmer editor Gerard Hutching as new scientific findings.

For almost five decades big tobacco corporations joined forces to fight against the mounting scientific evidence of the drug’s addictive and harmful effects to human health to protect profits. The tactic behind avoiding the facts shown by data and argued by scientists is known as shedding reasonable doubt, and is today still used to manipulate consumers into doubting scientific evidence.

This is currently evident in New Zealand in terms of glyphosate, due to the recent public petitions raising safety concerns with local councils and requesting the product be banned. The inevitable response of funding reports denying the dangers of glyphosate can be clearly seen as an attempt to manipulate public opinion to keep their product on the shelves.

Overseas, a recent survey found that two thirds of Europeans support a complete ban of glyphosate due to the dangers to public health. It’s not surprising when traces have been found in the urine of people from 18 different European countries, as well as in 60% of breads sold in the UK.

By sharing unfounded reports, peer reviewed by only the EPA and Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), those with vested interests protecting GE and glyphosate have begun seeding doubt into the minds of the public through an ever obliging media, which for years has been lacking the fundamentals of proper journalism.

Allan Freeth has a clear conflict of interest in his appointment to the EPA having previous strong ties to big biotech corporation Monsanto, and any reports commissioned under his leadership should be disregarded in favour of analysing the real science currently used by the WHO in determining danger to the general public.

Freeth should be removed as CEO of the NZ EPA and replaced with a chair that does not have clear ties to the corporations which our environment needs to be protected from.

About The Author

Wake Up NZ is a team of dedicated truth-seekers from all over New Zealand. We are committed to disseminating information that the mainstream media fails to bring to you.

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