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Bioethics Cl Seeks Strengthening Organisms Bill

Bioethics Council Seeks Strengthening Of New Organisms Bill

The Bioethics Council’s submission to the Education and Science Select Committee on the New Organisms and Other Matters (NOOM) Bill has sought changes to improve the consideration of ethical, cultural and spiritual concerns.

While generally supporting the Bill, the Council is seeking amendments

“The Royal Commission made it clear that many New Zealanders believe ethical, spiritual and cultural matters should be taken into consideration when deciding on applications under the HSNO Act.” said Sir Paul Reeves, Chairperson of the Bioethics Council.

“The NOOM Bill must give weight to these matters, as well as to scientific, economic and environmental considerations. The Council is strongly of the view that these matters should be an integral component of ERMA processes.”

ERMA previously acknowledged in its submission to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification difficulties in handling ethical, spiritual and cultural effects with the tools it currently has available.

“We believe that providing a more effective means of handling ethical, spiritual and cultural effects within ERMA’s decision-making processes may well reduce barriers such as time and cost to applications rather than creating them.”

It has been suggested that ERMA consider technical matters and that the Bioethics Council consider spiritual, cultural and ethical matters.

“We disagree with this approach, and believe processes should be established so that the overarching principles, guidelines or frameworks developed by the Bioethics Council can be integrated into ERMA’s case-by-case decision-making,” said Sir Paul Reeves.

The Council has clearly supported the provision for conditional release as better reflecting concerns of the New Zealand public and the recommendation of the Royal Commission to keep opportunity open, but to proceed with caution.

“Conditional release is a key factor in allowing the moratorium to be removed in October this year. Further, we recommend that NOOM be amended to ensure that HSNO requires any full release to be preceded by an appropriate period of conditional release,” said Sir Paul.

The Council is also seeking formal recognition of the need to consult with iwi and hapu over Maori representatives on Nga Kaihautu Tikanga Taiao and the ERMA Board.

“It is essential that Maori representation on the Authority is at a level where it can be ensured that Maori have that ‘proper place’ in decision-making. We welcome and strongly support Clause 8 of the bill, which includes the eligibility factors for appointment to the Authority. However we submit that knowledge and expertise alone are not adequate, and that to represent Maori cultural values Maori community processes should be used to produce nominees for the Authority,” said Sir Paul.

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