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Plea To Use Call In Powers For Animal Experiments

6 August 2002

Plea For Minister To Use "Call In" Powers For Animal Experiments With Human Genes.

The Minister overseeing ERMA's application of the HSNO Act has been asked to "call in" a proposal from AgResearch to produce GE cows incorporating human, mice, deer, sheep and a range of genes from other organisms.

In a request from GE-Free NZ spokesperson Jon Carapiet, Minister Marian Hobbs has been asked to use her call-in powers under the HSNO Act (Section 68 (1) (e)) so that application GMD 02028 can be reviewed by the newly-established Bio Ethics Council chaired by former Governor General Sir Paul Reeves.

The request to call in the 10-year research project follows confirmation by ERMA that it has no powers to stop the application being processed. AgResearch's application is due to be heard next week and ERMA have stated in their evaluation report (page 56):

"The HSNO Act requires applications to be processed when they are received, so it is not possible for the application to be delayed until the Bio Ethics Council is established."

The decision effectively side-steps key recommendations by the Royal Commission which are that food animals should not be used in these sort of experiments when alternatives can be considered, and that community values should be considered by establishing a Bio Ethics Council.

" The only way to stop this process from completely excluding the Bio Ethics Council is for AgResearch to agree to temporarily withdraw their application while the ethical issues can be reviewed, or for the Minister to use her powers to call it in," says Mr Carapiet.

"Failure to call in GMD 02028 would explicitly exclude the new Bio Ethics Council from this process. It will make a mockery of the government's claims to be following the Royal Commission's guidance. It will show that the government's underpinning philosophy is not caution but hypocrisy and " business as usual" even for the most contentious experiments," says Mr Carapiet.

Protests from Maori and other sectors of society such as the Hindu community living in New Zealand are likely if the project proceeds without an ethical review. Any decision by ERMA could be open to challenge in the courts given the many scientific uncertainties and inadequate containment in open fields being proposed.

END

For more information contact Jon Carapiet

09 815 3370


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