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NZ Researchers Should Join Field Trial Withdrawal

09 February 2000

NZ Researchers Should Join Field Trial Withdrawal - Greens

AgResearch, Ruakura should take a lead from Monsanto and withdraw its application for a new field trial of genetically engineered sheep, before submissions on the application close next week, the Greens say.

Monsanto announced two days ago it had withdrawn its application for a field trial of genetically engineered wheat. 1418 submissions on the wheat field trial were submitted to the environmental risk management authority.

Submissions on AgResearch's application to breed a flock of genetically engineered sheep on the outskirts of Hamilton city will close on the 16th February. The field trial would involve knocking out a myostatin gene in the sheep, to see whether the sheep will develop unusually large muscles.

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said it would benefit all New Zealanders if AgResearch withdrew its field trial application until the royal commission on genetic engineering had made its recommendations on the future of genetic engineering in New Zealand.

"Monsanto is willing to give New Zealanders a breathing space by withdrawing their field trial application for genetically engineered wheat," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"It would be a gesture of good faith to a concerned public if AgResearch and other New Zealand research institutions took a lead from Monsanto and withdrew all pending applications for outdoor field trials, especially where research is being funded by the taxpayer as it is in this case."

Green Party Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said the royal commission had been set up to debate the ethics and safety of precisely this type of research project.

"The public debate should be held before any more genetic engineering field trials begin in New Zealand. A withdrawal of pending field trial applications would allow people on both sides of the debate to save their time, energy and money for the royal commission," said Ms Kedgley.

Ends

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