Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Greens criticise unauthorised GE experiments

12 April 2000

Greens criticise unauthorised GE experiments

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was astounded that Otago University's Christchurch School of Medicine was conducting unauthorised genetic engineering experiments because they were unaware of approval requirements.

It was revealed this morning that the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) is investigating a series of experiments at the school which Otago University say they knew nothing about.

The experiments involved inserting genes from a number of species, including geckhos, hagfish, lamprey and tuatara, into bacteria.

Ms Fitzsimons sharply criticised the school for failing to familiarise itself with fundamental rules. "Genetic engineering is the most controversial scientific work ever undertaken in this country," she said. "It is unacceptable that so-called 'front-line scientists' are unaware of basic legal approval processes.

"The excuse of researcher Steve Brennan that they 'don't read the fine print' all of the time is ludicrous given the high level of public interest and debate over genetic engineering and the approval process," she said. "ERMA has held a number of seminars on the legal processes and runs a website. The print on this subject is in fact very large.

"The Christchurch School of Medicine have failed dismally in their scientific responsibilities. Their unawareness may stem from the view of many scientists that there is no risk in genetic engineering and the controls are a bureaucratic waste of time. This was not the view of Parliament when it passed the HASNO Act and is not the view of the public, who are demanding an inquiry and a halt to more trials until it has reported," she said.

"The risk to the public and the environment from scientists who dismiss the risks as unreal is worrying."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was unclear whether the experiments, which begun prior to the creation of ERMA, were even registered with the previous agency - the Advisory Committee on Novel Genetic Techniques.

"I am also concerned that ERMA may not be adequately monitoring how the universities and research institutes and private companies use the powers it has delegated to them," she said. "Ultimately ERMA is responsible to ensure it delegates authority only to institutions that understand their responsibilities. For example, all institutions should routinely advise all their molecular biologists of the rules they should be following."


Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 07 868 6641 (hm), 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Also, Loan Interest: Productivity Commission On Tertiary Education

Key recommendations include better quality control; making it easier for students to transfer between courses; abolishing University Entrance; enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets; making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers... More>>


Higher Payments: Wellington Regional Council Becomes A Living Wage Employer

Councillor Sue Kedgley said she was delighted that the Wellington Regional Council unanimously adopted her motion to become a Living Wage employer, making it the first regional council in New Zealand to do so. More>>


Scoop Images:
Dame Patsy Reddy Sworn In As Governor-General

This morning Dame Patsy Reddy was sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor-General. The ceremony began with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament. More>>


Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>


With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>


Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news