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Call for ban on Genetically Engineered Humans

Call for ban on Genetically Engineered Humans

MP’s Warned: “HART” Bill Opens the Door to Eugenics

GE Free NZ has described the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) bill as the most comprehensive and far-reaching eugenic legislation the like of which the world has not seen since Nazi Germany in the 1930’s to the Select Committee on Health today.

MP’s were told that the NZ government has no public mandate or reason to be the first government in the world to legalise Germ-Line Genetic Modification (GLGM), otherwise known as inheritable human genetic engineering. Every other country which has created law on it so far has prohibited it and it is beyond comprehension as to why they would want to be the first to legalise it.

Even though GLGM is the most dangerous of all eugenic technologies because it potentially allows for the creation of new genetically enhanced species of humans the government hasn’t stopped there. They are also proposing to legalise the use of mandatory genetic testing, sex selection and Embryo Selection (ES).

“This presents a nightmare scenario for the potential ‘genetic cleansing’ of the NZ population. The HART bill needs to be drastically changed.” says Jon Carapiet a spokesperson for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

However, GE Free NZ in food and environment support some measures in the HART bill such as the prohibition of assisted reproductive technologies that include human cloning, and that of the creation of human/non-human hybrid embryos.

“Why the government has rightly proposed a ban on human cloning, but not inheritable human genetic engineering is a mystery. They are both species-altering technologies that can usher in a post-human era” says Mr. Carapiet.

Professor George Annas- Chair of the Health Law Department at Boston University, USA- has concluded that both inheritable genetic modification (IGM) and cloning, “can be seen as crimes against humanity of a unique sort: they are techniques that can alter the essence of humanity itself and thereby threaten the foundation of human rights by taking evolution into our own hands and directing it towards the development of a new species, sometimes called the ‘post human’.”

GE Free NZ in food and environment has enlisted the help of a number of overseas expert witnesses from the UK, USA and Canada who have supplied written testimony. Dr Mae Wan Ho of the Institute of Science in Society in the UK has described the HART bill as, “state-sanctioned eugenics by another name” something, “which, is rejected by most, if not all countries around the world. It is, furthermore, based on an utterly retrograde and discredited ideology of genetic determinism posing as science.”

Professor Stuart A. Newman of the New York Medical College views HART as being scientifically inconsistent and medically dangerous in allowing the legalisation of GLGM. He states that there is no way to assess the safety of germline procedures in human beings, without exposing prospective children to unwarranted experimentation and that the experimental alteration of prospective humans cannot be justified under any ethical standard of justifiable risk.

Richard Hayes - Executive Director for the Center for Genetics and Society in the USA -states, “It is true that the HART bill provides that proposals to initiate IGM [Inheritable Genetic Modification or GLGM] research or trials be approved by advisory bodies. But that is the problem. No other government, world-wide, has explicitly authorized an advisory committee to approve IGM. Elsewhere, when IGM has been considered and debated, it has simply been banned, in much the same way that slavery or child prostitution has been banned. There are no reasonable arguments in support of IGM that would call for advisory committee review.”

Dr David King of Human Genetics Alert in the United Kingdom states that the implications of the NZ government, “not banning HGE [Human Genetic Engineering] are profound. This is not just another decision about just another biomedical technology. Permitting HGE would represent a decision to cross a critical threshold for the whole of humanity. Humankind would begin to take charge of its own evolution, and so enter into a new era of human history.”

He points out that, “no country has taken the position that New Zealand proposes: to give HGE positive endorsement by designating it a normal, regulated technology. New Zealand does not have the right to unilaterally decide to take humankind over this threshold.”

GE Free NZ in food and environment is also opposing Embryo Selection (ES) as this will usher in an era of allowing parents to chose the genetic inheritance of their children.

Dr Gregor Wolbring of the university of Alberta in Canada is a biochemist, a bioethicist and a disability rights activist. In his testimony he states ES is, “mainly sold as a tool for fixing disabilities, impairments, diseases, and defects, (DIDD) and diminishing suffering. These promises raise quite a few questions. Which and whose values and perceptions are reflected in the definitions of DIDD and the attached ‘suffering’?”

Dr Wolbring points out that in deciding what DIDD needs to be “fixed” or “cured” with ES, has more to do with social beliefs and norms than it has to do with deciding where the cut off line is on a medical basis.

Embryo selection by itself potentially opens the door to a eugenics future, whether for choosing the gender of a child or socially desired genetic traits.

Combined with the legalisation of mandatory genetic screening, GLGM and ES, present a clear policy direction by the government, which will allow the ushering in of genetic ‘cleansing’ in New Zealand, and eventually could lead to a post-human future populated by a new species of humans.

“GLGM by itself has rightly been called a weapon of mass destruction and as such a crime against humanity. The New Zealand government must pull back from the brink and make sure mandatory genetic testing, GLGM and ES are all prohibited by this Bill.” says Mr. Carapiet.

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