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NZ Must Act On Genetically Engineered Babies

6 May 2001

New Zealand Must Act On Genetically Engineered Babies

News that 15 genetically engineered babies have already been born in the US showed that gene technology is fast getting out of control and the New Zealand parliament must act quickly to limit its use here, Green MP Sue Kedgley said today.

American scientists have confirmed that 15 babies - the oldest now four years old - have been born after a process of 'germ line therapy' in which genetic material is altered to allow infertile women have babies.

"What people are starting to realise is that the most powerful technolgy the world has ever seen is now already out of control and ethical boundaries never foreseen or considered are being pushed beyond the limits," said Ms Kedgley.

"I call on the New Zealand Government to act quickly on this and ban the practice of genetically engineering human beings by fast-tracking consideration of the Human Assisted Reproduction Bill which has been referred to the Health Select Committee," she said.

Ms Kedgley said it was important that people understood these babies with engineered genetic structure would pass these alterations on to any offspring they might have.

"The germ line therapy used here allows the permanent alteration of the human genetic code and this puts humanity on the slipperyest of slopes.

"Following this announcement, and the willingness of some scientists to start experimenting with human cloning, there is no reason for people to doubt that our greatest fears - such as the creation of designer babies or a genetically engineered 'master race' - are now well out of the realm of science fiction."

Ms Kedgley said the creation of these babies raised serious ethical and religious issues which had not been properly aired or discussed here.

"New Zealand needs to follow the lead of Australia, Germany and Switzerland in banning the use of this germ line therapy. If we do not and instead stand back and allow the permanent alteration of the human genetic code then our future may exceed our wildest fears," she said.

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