3 Nov 2009

Challenge to AgResearch genetic research proposal

7:30 am on 3 November 2009

GE-Free New Zealand has challenged a decision by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to grant approval for a new application by AgResearch to create genetically modified organisms.

The crown research body is proposing to develop small viruses, or vectors, to move DNA into animal cells as part of its investigations into treatment for a number of diseases.

ERMA says the research will look at animal health and the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal, kidney and muscle diseases and infections.

It says the application was approved last month and as it was to be carried out inside a secure laboratory, the Authority considered it to be low-risk.

ERMA says the application was approved because it met the criteria needed for a rapid assessment of projects for low-risk genetic modification.

But GE-Free New Zealand says the application, which would allow AgResearch to test a wide range of animals including goats, sheep, cows, cats and dogs, lacks detail and should not have been approved.

It says the research would include developing the small viruses could pose a hazard to laboratory personnel.

ERMA will look at GE-Free New Zealand's objection and decide whether there are grounds for reassessment.

The anti-GE organisation has also challenged another application by AgResearch involving genetic modification of animals, which is undergoing an appeal process in the High Court.