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Blood Donors Must Consent Before DNA Added

Blood Donors Must Consent Before DNA Added To Animals

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said revelations that a woman's DNA had been taken from a blood sample and used to create transgenic sheep without her consent had serious implications for blood donors.

PPL Therapeutics have said DNA which has now been inserted into a flock of genetically engineered sheep in the Waikato probably came from a blood sample given in the 1980s by a 22 year old Danish woman. She had never been told what her DNA had been used for.

Ms Fitzsimons today said that using blood products for projects without the donor's consent was hardly conducive to raising the current shortfall of blood donors in New Zealand.

"Most people when they give blood expect it will be used to help people who need a transfusion to help them back to health," she said. "If they understand that their genes may be inserted into animals by a private company for corporate profit, they may be reluctant to continue giving blood."

"This is not a one off case. ERMA has recently indicated that a decision will soon be announced on whether to allow an experiment in which human genes will be added to cattle at Ruakura," she said. "This raises the question of where the human genes will come from and whether consent was given.

"It also raises difficult moral and ethical questions which the Royal Commission into genetic engineering will address. We feel this decision should be put on hold pending the outcomes of the Royal Commission," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Until we as a nation have decided whether inserting human genes into animals is morally and ethically acceptable the Greens believe no further approvals for these experiments should be granted."

Ms Fitzsimons said the case of the woman's genes being used to create transgenic animals without her consent raised issues previously confined to the realm of science fiction.

"How many of this woman's genes would these sheep have to have before these animals could, say, contest her will on the basis of inheritance?" asked Ms Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons will be asking question number 11 in the House on this issue today.

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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