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MAF must ban import of tissue for sheep cloning

9 February 2005

MAF must ban import of tissue for sheep cloning

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street says a total ban is the standard MAF should be setting for the importation of material from cloned sheep.

Wairarapa farmers Andrew and Hazel Frontin-Rollet want to import tissue material from the ear of an Argali sheep, the world's largest breed, so they can be cloned in local ewes. As a result biosecurity officials have drafted a health standard that includes a five-year containment condition for the resulting clones.

"Containing cloned sheep is insufficient, they shouldn't be here at all," said Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Party's Agriculture Spokesperson.

"New Zealand cannot afford to have individuals compromising our clean, green international image. If the Frontin-Rollets wish to breed Argali sheep, there is nothing to prevent them importing semen or live animals and going through the normal quarantine and breeding processes. They should be told in no uncertain terms that using cloned animals is neither welcome nor sensible for New Zealand.

"This ear must not be allowed in and the blood and tissue already here should be destroyed.

"Just the presence of cloned sheep here would have a significant detrimental impact on our rural economy, which is based on producing '100 per cent pure' food and fibre.

"Consumers world-wide have absolutely rejected plants and animals which have been genetically engineered or cloned. Any suggestion that the NZ sheep flock has been contaminated in this way may well lead to a dramatic decline in demand, such as that suffered by Canadian canola growers and American corn growers when their Governments embraced GE.

"In any event, cloning is a serious animal welfare issue, with previous experimentation with cloned animals, notably Dolly the sheep, being fraught with complications such as early ageing, arthritis and short life expectancy," said Mr Ewen-Street.


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