3 May 2010

Supreme Court hearing sought for GM animal case

6:06 am on 3 May 2010

GE Free New Zealand has applied to the Supreme Court to continue a legal challenge against wide-ranging new research proposals for genetically modified animals.

The lobby group is fighting four applications by the Crown Research Institute, AgResearch to the Environmental Risk Management Authority.

AgResearch is seeking approval to develop biopharmaceuticals and nutraceutical products from 18 species of genetically modified animals including alpacas, donkeys and buffalos.

Last year, GE Free New Zealand won a High Court case arguing that ERMA should not have accepted the applications because they were not specific enough to comply with the law.

That was overturned in the Court of Appeal, but GE Free NZ is now seeking leave to take its case to the Supreme Court.

The group has until 19 May to file submissions so the Court can decide whether it will hear the case.

Evaulation continues

Meanwhile, ERMA is continuing work on evaluating and reviewing the AgResearch applications before it issues a report which would include a preliminary recommendation.

The agency recently gave AgResearch approval to carry on its existing research programme with genetically modified cattle, along with sheep and goats, to produce therapeutic proteins in milk.

That work's been underway at the Ruakura campus outside Hamilton for about 10 years.