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ERMA's decision 'big step forward'.

The decision by ERMA to approve an application for transgenic cattle has been welcomed by Chairman of the Life Sciences Network Dr William Rolleston.

"It is a groundbreaking decision for ERMA," he said today.

"It shows New Zealand’s regulatory system is able to recognise the validity of a broad application, and to assess it in an appropriate manner.

"With this decision, ERMA has clearly demonstrated its ability to consider applications on a case by case basis.

"It will also cut down unnecessary compliance costs in the future.

Dr Rolleston said AgResearch would need to have a close look at the controls as they were extremely tight, but he believed the decision was a big step forward for the use of gene technology in New Zealand.

Science General Manager at AgResearch Paul Atkinson said the ERMA decision was excellent news for science in New Zealand.

"It gives a clarity for the future of life sciences and biotechnology in this country, where before there was a lot of uncertainty," he said.

"With this application, AgResearch was attempting to make experimentation of this type feasible under the NZ regulatory system.

"This decision means we wont ever face an application of this complexity again."

It also signaled a future where costs would be fractional to what they were now, Mr Atkinson said.

"AgResearch has always welcomed regulation, but we have maintained that it had to be reasonable.

"The controls under this present decision are still very rigorous; they are probably among the toughest in the world - but AgResearch is prepared to live with that."

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