Sunday, July 25, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalMinistry Wrong To See Future In GE Cigarettes

Ministry Wrong To See Future In GE Cigarettes


There is concern that The Ministry of Health has been
hoodwinked into promoting Genetic Engineering of tobacco as
a credible option towards a Smoke Free
Aotearoa.

Submissions on the Smoke Free 2025
consultation document have closed, and it is positive to see
a 40% drop in people smoking cigarettes in the last 5
years.

However, in a press release BioTech NZ say that
the Ministry of Health is supporting Genetic Engineering of
tobacco plants as a vital solution to reaching the 2025
goal. [1]

However, the Genetic Engineering (GE) of
tobacco for low nicotine was not mentioned in the
consultation document [2] and there is concern that backroom
discussions are now being publicised by BioTech NZ as having
Ministry of Health commitment. The US Corporation 22 Century
is ready to license the supply of GE tobacco NZ needs.
[3]

“It is disingenuous of the Ministry of Health and
the Minister to discuss privately with the Biotech industry
and not consult with the public on this,” said Claire
Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

“Private
discussions with interested US parties and BioTech NZ is
undemocratic and undermines public confidence when it
results in such nonsensical ideas that do not achieve the
goal of smoke free by 2025.”

BioTech NZ claim
Genetic Engineering of tobacco is vital because “strong
evidence indicates that removing the nicotine from tobacco
makes it unattractive to many smokers”.

“The proposal
is clearly misguided and seems more about promoting Genetic
Engineering than smoking prevention,” said Jon Carapiet.
spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

“It is not logical to be
promoting smoking at all.”

Genetic Engineering of
tobacco to produce nicotine-free cigarettes has not been
tested for safety and pose the same dangers as normal
cigarettes. It is not just the nicotine but the flavours,
sugars and additives to make the cigarette burn that release
toxic particulates into the lungs.

A four-year study
by Cummings and Colleagues (2006) of the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation found that “smokers… of light or ultra light
cigarettes receives the same amount of tar and nicotine as a
smoker of regular cigarettes.” [4]

Smoking is
dangerous regardless of what it is that is being inhaled.
Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer and lung
disease as the heat and toxins from the smoke destroys the
delicate lung tissue. [5]

“It is short sighted of the
Ministry to promote smoking in any form especially smoking
cigarettes sourced from the unknown toxic effects of
Genetically Engineered tobacco,” said Claire
Bleakley.

References:

[1] https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE2106/S00056/nz-should-move-to-low-nicotine-cigarettes-biotechnz-says.htm

[2]
https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/proposals-smokefree-aotearoa-2025-action-plan

[3]
https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/04/15/2211315/0/en/22nd-Century-Stands-Fully-Prepared-to-Enable-New-Zealand-Proposal-to-Advance-Nationwide-Smoke-Free-Action-Plan.html

[4]
Four-Year Survey Shows Cigarette Smokers Unaware of Health
Risks of Low Tar and Nicotine Cigarettes https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2006/08/four-year-survey-shows-cigarette-smokers-unaware-of-health-risks.html

[5]
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647656/
 

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