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AgResearch Manipulates More Than Genes

AgResearch Manipulates More Than Genes

AgResearch's own legal counsel has contradicted their organisation's claim that its project to insert human and other animal genes into cows may result in cures for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Today is the fourth day of a judicial review at Auckland's High Court, in which the mothers' group MAdGE is challenging AgResearch, The Environmental Risk Management Authority, and Environment Minister Marian Hobbs over the way permission was granted for AgResearch to proceed with its controversial plans to insert human, mice, deer, goat and sheep genes into cows.

Earlier this week AgResearch CEO Doctor Keith Steele said he hoped that research would result in potential treatments or cures for diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

But on Thursday at the High Court, AgResearch legal counsel Justin Smith, in his opening submissions said: "the stated objectives of the application are to develop transgenic cattle that can express functional proteins in their milk and to develop transgenic cattle to study gene function and genetic performance".

Questioned about the research, he went on to advise the court that ``it could not be said, and nor would AgResearch say - and it is certainly far too early to be able to make the claim - that any therapeutic cures or treatments for diseases would eventuate from this research.''

MAdGE has struggled against a perception that it opposes genetic research for the cure of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. MAdGE has never opposed ethical medical research in the lab. It does, however, have a deep concern about the risks of allowing GE organisms into food and the environment and the potentially disastrous consequences both to trade and to future generations.

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