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10,000 Human-Gene Sheep Not a Trial - Greens

30 January 2000

10,000 Human-Gene Sheep Not a Trial - Greens

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today that a commercial herd of 10,000 genetically modified sheep in the Waikato made a mockery of "field trial" approvals granted by the environmental risk management authority.

International pharmaceutical company PPL Therapeutics is building up a commercial herd of genetically modified sheep which express the human protein AAT in their milk.

PPL Therapeutics received approval from the environmental risk management authority last year to run two herds of 5000 transgenic sheep as a "field trial". The herds were derived by cloning of transgenic semen.

Green Party Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said no scientific trials were being run in New Zealand using the milk and the project should never have been approved under a field trial classification.

"PPL Therapeutics openly admitted in their application that they are running a manufacturing herd of sheep crossed with human genes, and their web-site refers to a "large-scale breeding" programme in New Zealand. As soon as the AAT protein gets approval from clinical trials on patients with cystic fibrosis in the US and UK, they will want to start commercial production from the New Zealand AAT-rich milk ."

Ms Kedgley referred to a passage in the environmental risk authority decision GMF98001, which states: "The application is for approval to field test (maintain a manufacturing ewe flock of) transgenic sheep in containment, in order to produce commercial quantities of human alpha-1 antitrypsin (hAAT)."

"Until the Royal Commision on genetic engineering has made its report, this psuedo-trial should be halted," said Ms Kedgley. "New Zealanders should have a chance to say whether they want thousands of sheep containing human genes running around the Waikato hills."

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