Further Trials On GM Research Approved

NEW ZEALAND - The Environmental and Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has approved an application from Ag Research NZ to continue existing transgenic research on ruminant animals.
calendar icon 15 April 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

The GM trials will be conducted at Agresearch’s Ruakura facility only and in “full containment” meaning for example, two-metre high, double fencing of outdoor containment facilities and measures to prevent animal products from entering the food chain.

‘This means business as usual for our transgenic research. We will be continuing the rigorous containment we have used for over ten years and in our science explore the safe application of transgenic technologies for human benefit. Our research has been monitored and progress reported. We will continue to carry out the ongoing requirements,’ said Dr Jimmy Suttie, AgResearch’s Science & Technology General Manager, Applied Biotechnologies Group.

‘This approval allows us to meet contractual agreements we have and ensure our work covers relevant farmed ruminants in New Zealand, and this is important to pursuing transgenic research goals.

‘Importantly this sets the scene for potentially building a New Zealand biopharmaceuticals research programme that can save lives and alleviate suffering all around the world.

ERMA noted in granting approval: “The Authority considered the main benefit of this research to be an increase in scientific knowledge and the capacity for innovation in New Zealand”.

“AgResearch’s first attempt to get this approval through was denied as they failed to be specific about the benefit of the GM work they proposed and because they were asking for a broad license to manipulate a wide variety of animals and cells in a variety of ways. This was interpreted in court last year to be one step too far," says Associate Professor Jon Hickford, President of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science.

“This latest application is more focused, with specific outcomes and benefits described. It is not surprising that a high level of containment is required, but that would always have been the case. The approval is allowed by and consistent with the HSNO Act, and while it may surprise some people, the possibility of this kind of approval being granted once certain criteria were met was ALWAYS there."

“I do not doubt that a number of individuals and groups will be severely “put-out” by this approval, but it needs to be stressed that this is fundamentally experimental science being undertaken for the public good in a Crown agency. I am not aware of any “corporate” influence beyond that defined as acceptable and allowed under the CRI Act. I do not expect to wake up and put GM milk on my Weet-Bix in the near future!” Mr Hickford commented.

The full ERMA decision is available here.

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