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Sheep trial may lead to deformed sheep - Kedgley

6 April 2000

Kedgley urges 'no' decision for GE Sheep

Green MP Sue Kedgley said an application to genetically engineer sheep to produce more muscle raises serious animal welfare issues.

The genetically engineered sheep that the Crown Research Institute AgResearch have applied to produce may be deformed and weakened, with reduced internal organs, reduced fertility, fewer offspring and delayed sexual maturation, according to the Environmental Risk Management Authority's own assessment report.

"It is unethical and unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective to be creating sheep that may be deformed and could suffer," said Ms Kedgley.

Ms Kedgley said the application was a "stab in dark" as AgResearch was not even certain the experiments would meet their aims of producing sheep with more muscle for meat.

The hearings into the application by AgResearch start in Wellington today. The Green Party is presenting a submission opposing the application and will be represented by legal counsel Tom Bennion.

Ms Kedgley said ERMA should turn down the application pending the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry which is likely to be announced before Easter.

"The decision about whether this type of highly controversial experiment should be allowed to proceed in this country must not be made by a small group of scientists and ERMA experts, it must be made by the people of this country," said Ms Kedgley.

"The Royal Commission will be set up to deal with precisely the kind of issues this application raises. Approval of this application would pre-empt and undermine not only the inquiry but the sovereignty of all New Zealanders before we begin serious deliberations on whether kiwis in fact want this type of work in our country or not."

Ms Kedgley said it was issues such as this application that made a moratorium on further genetic engineering experiments a necessity while the Royal Commission deliberates.

"This application to make meat with more muscle, and many of the experiments that are already well under way in New Zealand, are attempts to redesign nature to accommodate our unsustainable consumption," she said.

"Now more than ever we need to debate the ethics and morality of dominating all life. The ERMA panel today is unable to do this and the Green Party urge them to turn this application down."

Sue Kedgley MP: 04 470 6728, 025 270 9088, Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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