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Maori Support Transgenic Animals/ Use of Humans

Maori Support Transgenic Animals/ Use of Maori Human Genes

AgResearch claims two Maori Authorities want to go into business partnership with them to farm transgenic animals in New Zealand, and that some participants at hui want Maori human genes to be used.

The unnamed Maori Authorities are cited in support of claimed benefits to Maori from AgResearch’s applications for wide ranging and indefinite genetic modification of animals. (Application GMD 8012 (p.90.)

But GE Free NZ believes Maori may have been misled about the scope and far-reaching effects of AgResearch’s proposals, and by promises of miracle cures that could in the process accidentally create new diseases, including those like BSE linked to prions.

“Whoever the Maori Authorities are, they are not reflecting widely held concerns and values amongst Maori and most other New Zealanders about ethical uses of biotechnology” says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

AgResearch say that during nationwide consultations with Maori some participants called for Maori human genes to be used in the GE projects. Currently Maori genes are specifically excluded from use because of cultural values protected under the Treaty of Waitangi. AgResearch quotes one hui-participant as saying “ we need a robust debate on the issue about “no Māori genes” being used in this type of research. Would we benefit from our genes being used? Especially if it leads to helping our people.”

“That debate took place at the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, but the issue is now back on the table given AgResearch’s plans,”says Jon Carapiet. “Maori must have a say, but the current set-up allows not just Maori values but wider community values to be ignored in the hunt for bigger profits.”

The claimed benefits to Maori of GE animals include cleaning up waterways damaged by dairy run-off. Instead of better farm practices the proposal is to create GE animals and GE bacteria in their gut. "This technical fix is a crazy approach compared to common sense farm management,” says Jon Carapiet.

AgResesearch say “in the medium to long term Maori (are) likely to share in a variety of economic opportunities ranging from operating transgenic farms to involvement in processing and production operations”. But AgResearch’s application pushes the boundaries of ethical science and if approved will mark the end of farming as we know it. As well as concerns of extraordinary animal exploitation and cruelty, basic human values about how we should and shouldn’t use gene technology will be sidelined. New Zealand will become an experimental playground for overseas and local companies wanting to take advantage of our currently disease-free animals and genetically engineer them.

If people thought the Royal Commission on GM and the existence of the Bio-Ethics Council would help navigate a ‘middle path’ and moderate the use of gene technology case-by-case, they were wrong. What is planned is a wholesale transformation.
Public submissions on the AgResearch proposals close in October.


page 89/90 of Application GMD 08012

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