INDEPENDENT NEWS

ERMA decision raises law interpretation questions

Published: Tue 1 Oct 2002 02:58 PM
ERMA decision raises serious questions of law interpretation
Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today ERMA's decision to approve engineering of cows with a wide range of genes raised serious questions about ERMA's interpretation of the law, and its dismissal of public opinion.
"If they approve this, what won't they approve?" she said. "Surveys show an overwhelming number of New Zealanders are opposed to genetically engineering cows in order to produce pharmaceuticals, especially if they're using human genes."
Ms Fitzsimons said ERMA's decision to allow AgResearch to genetically engineer cows containing genes from humans, sheep, deer, other cattle, mice or goats, set a dangerous precedent by approving GE applications where the full risks were unknown.
"It opens the floodgates for approval of large groups of experiments using unknown genetic material with unknown effects."
She said it was not possible to know the full risks, as full information on the types of genes to be used in the experiment, and the proteins they would make was not known.
"ERMA's conditions for containment miss the point. Building fences might keep cows in, but cannot contain genetic material which will be released into soil and groundwater, and be carried by insects.
"The only benefit identified by ERMA was new skills for scientists and scientific information for researchers. If expanding your knowledge and increasing your skills are enough to outweigh unknown risks, you can justify germ warfare."

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