The decision by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to approve genetically modified goats, sheep and cows at AgResearch’s Ruakura research facility is a decision Dr Strangelove would be proud of, said the Green Party’s GE spokesperson Sue Kedgley.
“New Zealand is moving into the strange, brave new world of transgenic animals, and into the realms of science fiction, and the person guiding us there is New Zealand’s former Spy chief,” said Ms Kedgley.
The decision by ERMA – whose current chair is former head of the Security Intelligence Service Dr Richard Woods – to approve a wide ranging application for genetically engineering goats, sheep and cattle, paves the way for a massive expansion in the number of genetically engineered animals in New Zealand, including transgenic animals created using human genes.
The decision gives taxpayer funded AgResearch almost carte blanche to genetically engineer goats, sheep and cattle using an almost unlimited number of organisms, including human genes.
The application makes it illegal for AgResearch to use Maori genes in genetically engineering the animals, but perfectly legal to use other human genes.
“I am incredulous that ERMA would give approval to Ag Research to carry out research and create such a wide range of genetically engineered animals,” said Ms Kedgley.
“Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act completely new organisms, such as genetically engineered animals created using human genes, should be applied for on a case by case basis, not given a carte blanche approval as this one. This application is far too broad to allow any assessment of risk.”
Ms Kedgley said New Zealanders will be astonished to learn that transgenic animals are about to be created on a large scale in New Zealand, using human genes, when there has been no public debate in New Zealand about whether we approve of crossing species boundaries and creating Frankenstein animals.
“This is particularly concerning when it is a taxpayer funded organisation, working in secret with a number of multinational corporations. Where is their mandate for carrying out this research?
“Clearly AgResearch are intending to make New Zealand one of the leading centres of genetically engineered animals, including Frankenstein animals, in the world,” said Ms Kedgley.
“Is this something New Zealanders want?
“There are other ways to advance medicine and human health without crossing the species barrier and going into the strange brave new world of transgenic animals.”
Sent by the Green Team in Parliament.