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Level Of Animal Suffering 'Unacceptable' In AgResearch GE Experiments

AgResearch's Ruakura genetically modified (GM) Animal Facility causes an unacceptable level of animal suffering and entails an unacceptable level of monetary cost and staff loss.

The AgResearch Annual report, 2020, on GM animals confirms that genetic modification and gene editing of animals (cows and goats) to produce pharmaceuticals in milk is not only a failure but also causes serious suffering and harm to both the surrogate conventional animals carrying transgenic embryos and genetically engineered (GE) animals, continuing throughout their lives. [1]

“Regardless of the methods used, whether transgenic or gene edited, the experiments on sentient animals are distressingly inhumane and a cruel failure,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

AgResearch’s Annual reports on GM animals at the Ruakura facility show routine euthanasia of surplus animals, mainly males or non-transgenic animals, in addition to GM animals being killed for humane reasons under veterinary recommendation.

The Ministry of Primary Industry’s (MPI) compliance reports for the facility have had major non-compliance issues for the last 5 years. However, MPI has regularly overlooked the faults, issuing the facility operators with a mild slap on the wrist instead of effective action.

It appears that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) receives the mandated annual reports but does not read or follow up on the consent breaches. Animals have mistakenly been removed from the facility. The research labs are dirty with dust and dead insects and unwashed utensils. The staff are stressed and under pressure to carry on working in badly maintained environments.

The report also reveals that there are only 17 surviving GE cows from years of trials. The 16 Daisy type cows, all created through RNAi gene editing have suffered the same illnesses as other transgenic animals created through a variety of GE methods. To date there have been no successful results reported for quality or quantity in milk, though hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars have been spent on these experiments.

Recent research by Dr. Roth Walter totally discredits the need to remove the whey protein beta lactoglobulin (BLG) trait that Dr. Goetz Liable, supervisor of the experiment, heralded as a revolution that would allow children with milk allergies to drink milk. Dr. Roth’s research has shown that beta lactoglobulin in whole milk helps prevent allergic reactions. The anti-allergenic property of beta-lactoglobulin in grass fed whole milk binds with an iron complex and delivers it to the immune cells, preventing inflammation. This complex also inhibits IgE antibodies that create allergic or anaphylactic reactions. [2]

“GM animal experiments have failed dismally and caused much suffering and ill health as well as deformities in the surrogate and existing TG animals," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ.

"The rationale, high cost, and ethics must now be questioned. The Environmental Protection Authority must examine the breaches and suffering in the GE animal experiments and take action to shut down the facility immediately."


[1] 2020 AgResearch Annual Report on cows, goats and sheep https://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/Uploads/2020-AgResearch-cattle-sheep-and-goats-annual-report.pdf

[2] Roth-Walter, F., Afify, S., Pacios, L., Blokhuis, B., Redegeld, F., & Regner, A. et al. (2020). Cow’s milk protein -lactoglobulin confers resilience against allergy by targeting complexed iron into immune cells. Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2020.05.023

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