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Greens Not Opposed to GE for Medical Research


Green MP Sue Kedgley has rebutted a National Party claim that the Greens oppose all medical research involving genetic engineering.

"The Greens do not, and have never, opposed genetic engineering in containment for medical research, subject to reasonable animal welfare considerations," Ms Kedgley said.

"The Green Party has never asked for a halt on the many medical experiments involving genetic engineering currently being conducted in New Zealand laboratories," she said.

"However, the environmental risk management authority should never have given PPL Therapeutics permission to breed a manufacturing flock of up to 10,000 sheep containing human genes as a "field trial", when clinical trials have not yet shown the human protein they produce to be a valid, useful treatment for cystic fibrosis."

Ms Kedgley said PPL Therapeutics were jumping the gun in setting up a manufacturing flock of transgenic sheep in New Zealand."

"I have every sympathy for cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families," said Ms Kedgley. "However they realise, as I do, that alpha-1-1-antitrypsin (AAT) has a long way to go before it is proven as a treatment for the condition, and is accepted for use on patients by drug authorities around the world."

Ms Kedgley said the environmental risk management authority should have waited until clinical trials on AAT currently being conducted in the UK, Eire, Germany and the US were successfully concluded, before giving permission for a large manufacturing flock of transgenic sheep to be bred in New Zealand.

"What the Green Party is saying is that there is a risk involved in breeding up to 10,000 genetically engineered sheep in New Zealand, and that risk should not have been taken when the medical benefits of AAT have not yet been proven."

Ms Kedgley said that she had always been aware that PPL Therapeutics currently had around 200 sheep on their Waikato farm, but said the company could choose to build their flock up to the environmental risk management authority limit of 10,000 sheep whenever they chose.

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