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AgResearch aims to spread GE animals around NZ

7 August 2008

AgResearch aims to spread GE animals around NZ


A huge application to genetically engineer a wide range of animals, plus human and monkey cells, side-steps a government promise to deal with GE applications on a case by case basis, Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"This application in four parts lists numerous animal and human cells and other animal body parts to be host organisms for engineering. It could allow AgResearch to develop unlimited numbers of GE animals without telling us which specific genes and associated genetic material they intend to use, and without going back to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) for further approval," she says.

"The application also shows AgResearch has refused to tell ERMA where in New Zealand its outside experiments are likely to be and suggests Canterbury, Taranaki and Southland might become new GE testing grounds."

Whole animals the Crown research institute wants to genetically engineer for "outside containment" are llamas, alpacas, sheep, cows, pigs, goats, buffalo, deer and horses.

"AgResearch says it has 'developed a world leading capability in transgenic livestock research' and talks about creating 'sustainable wealth' but the fact is it wants to turn New Zealand into a giant GE laboratory to boost its own corporate plans at the expense of our long-term image, and without taking into account the huge risk of something going wrong," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"I'm sure the institute will argue about the chance of discovering a new medicine, but the application seems more about patenting new life-forms and bullying New Zealanders into accepting GE food from modified animals.

"Every effort for the past seven years to get some generic protection against the risks of GE technology has been countered with the claim that Government deals with GE on a 'case by case basis'.

"I call on Environment Minister Trevor Mallard to say publicly and tell ERMA that this application is not in the spirit of the Government's policy of dealing with GE applications on a case by case basis and is ethically completely unacceptable."

ENDS

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