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UN Convention on Preservation of the Human Species

UN Convention on the Preservation of the Human Species.

Press Release – Groundswell Canterbury 22/09/02

Call for Government to Support Development of UN Convention on the Preservation of the Human Species.

The United Nations committee negotiating an international ban on human reproductive cloning and inheritable genetic manipulation will hold its second meeting this week (September 23-27) in New York. The proposed treaty was initiated by France and Germany and has so far received widespread support from at least 80 countries. Groundswell spokesperson Tremane Barr has called on the government and all other political parties to openly voice their support for the development and ratification of the UN Convention on the preservation of the human species.[1]

“What is at stake is the whole future of the human race as cloning and genetic engineering techniques are advancing to the point where wholly new human beings can be created and designed in the laboratory. New Zealand must work with the UN to see this Convention banning human cloning and inheritable genetic modification is successful,” said Tremane Barr.

The proposed Convention is based on giving effect to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to affirm the dignity and equality of all people and the right not to be discriminated against. The draft Conventions main proposals are to prohibit inheritable genetic engineering and cloning of human beings with a requirement on all governments to put national laws into effect to achieve this in their respective countries. It is also proposed that there be a new UN body established to oversee the implementation of this Convention at both the national and international level.[2]

Author Gina Maranto in a New York Times review of Gregory Stock's book ‘Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future’, stated “Unfettered science has not historically shown itself to be in the best interest of society, any more than unfettered government, religion or business have. The fact that biomedical tinkerings have brought benefits for some does not constitute a sufficient reason for concluding that the practitioners of the embryonic arts should have the right to pursue any and all lines of experiment. Nor is it an adequate argument to say that if banned, germ-line manipulations would simply move offshore or go to the black market. That may be true. But if the fact that people will seek to avoid the law were a reason not to have a law, we would have no laws at all."[3]

Under current NZ law the HSNO Act governing genetic engineering temporarily bans human cloning which GE Free NZ supports on the proviso it is made permanent, but allows scientists to apply to the Minister of Health to genetically engineer designer human beings.

“It is completely abhorrent that while the international community is moving ahead to protect the future of the human species that the government earlier this year passed legislation allowing for the possibility of the genetic engineering of human beings. Nowhere in government policy documents leading up to this change was there any mention of growing moves at the international level to ban such possibilities.”

“Overseas commentators have rightly compared the cloning and genetic engineering of human beings as crimes against humanity as it opens up the very real prospect of gross inequalities and the potential for the genetic genocide in the future of those humans deemed as inferior. All political parties must now make it clear where they stand for or against this eugenics future and the nightmares it will entail. The only sane option is for the NZ government to support the development and ratification of this Convention to ban human cloning and inheritable genetic modification.” said Tremane Barr.

For further details contact Tremane Barr at: Phone (03) 981 5235.


[1] Groundswell Canterbury is the Canterbury based regional body of GE Free NZ.

[2] The first detailed analysis of the need for an international treaty banning reproductive cloning -- and inheritable genetic modification as well -- has been prepared by George J. Annas, Lori B. Andrews and Rosario M. Isasi. Their paper, "Protecting the Endangered Human: Toward an International Treaty Prohibiting Cloning and Inheritable Alterations," American Journal Of Law & Medicine (Vol. 28, no. 2,3, pp. 151-178) is available online at


[3] See Gina Maranto, "Deoxyribonucleic Acid Trip," New York Times (August 25, 2002), and online at http://www.genetics-and-society.org/resources/items/20020825_nytimes_maranto.html

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