The director of a Rutherford biotechnology company named in a ground-breaking ABC investigation has denied any wrongdoing by the business.
The ABC’s flagship investigative program, Four Corners, aired an episode on Monday night unearthing a sophisticated conspiracy to smuggle bovine blood products into Australia, with Austrian firm PAA Laboratories alleged to be at the heart of it.
The program detailed that the plot included mislabeling foetal blood serum (FBS) – a product made from the blood of unborn calves – coming from South America in order to smuggle them into Australia, presenting a serious biosecurity risk.
FBS is commonly used as a growth supplement for livestock. It’s also increasingly being used in next generation pharmaceutical drugs.
The ABC reported that the Department of Investigation commenced a long-running investigation into PAA in 2013, which included raids on their Australian suppliers – including Rutherford business Cellsera.
Company director Thomas Gehrmann said he was restricted in what he could say due to the ongoing Department of Agriculture investigation, but denied any malpractice.
“The only thing I can tell you is that me personally or my company never engaged in the foreign importation of FBS,” Mr Gehrmann said.
“We have so far complied with everything the Department of Agriculture has asked.”
He added Cellsera supplied FBS products to other companies all over Australia, not just PAA Laboratories.
He said FBS produced at their site was sourced entirely in Australia.
Mr Gehrmann added that all products seized in the Department of Agriculture’s 2013 raid were found to be of Australian origin.