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Authority kicks for touch over human genes in cows

The Environmental Risk Management Authority's dithering over a human-genes-in-cows application by AgResearch underlines the urgent need to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"Before an application like this should even be considered, a well-informed public debate is needed on the ethical issues of crossing the species barrier and doing in a laboratory what could never happen in billions of years of biological evolution," Ms Fitzsimons said. "We have been calling for such a debate since last year, and one of our priorities in office will be to set up such a commission."

Clearly ERMA is kicking for touch on this issue before the election, Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Perhaps it is finally realising that it is in no position to make fundamental ethical decisions which have never been debated by society," she said.

"There is also an animal welfare issue involved," she said. "Scientists will operate on dairy cattle to obtain skin and other samples, will take out and insert various embryoes and fetuses, and force calves into early lactation," Ms Fitzsimons pointed out. "This is treating animals as if they were biological machines, and makes the experiment all the more abhorrent."


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