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Agresearch gets GM cattle trials approved on second attempt

Thursday 15th April 2010

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Genetically modified cows, sheep and goats will be bred to seek new human medicines, improve the composition of milk, and allow study of disease resistance at Agresearch's Ruakura research Hamilton, in a critical decision for GM science in New Zealand.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority granted the application today after Agresearch was required to reapply, having failed to convince ERMA of the benefits of the research. 

President of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Associate Professor Jon Hickford, said the approval had been expected.

"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," he said, in comments supplied by the Science Media Centre. 

"This was interpreted in court last year to be one step too far."

The experimental genetic modification will seek human therapeutic proteins, or with altered levels of endogenous proteins for the study of gene function, milk composition and disease resistance. 

"Full containment" regulations will apply, meaning two-metre high, double fencing of outdoor facilities and measures to prevent animal products from entering the food chain.

ERMA considered "the main benefit of this research to be an increase in scientific knowledge and the capacity for innovation in New Zealand".

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