The Green Party is calling for Agresearch to stop its programme of genetic engineering experiments on animals at its Ruakura facility after a report revealing horrific birth defects and animal suffering was released this morning.
The report ‘GE Animals in New Zealand’ outlines the appalling genetic engineering experimentation on thousands of sheep, cattle and goats in New Zealand, that has resulted in chronically ill animals, deformities, and huge rates of miscarriage and still birth.
“Successive experiments have failed at huge taxpayer and animal welfare cost,” said Green Party GE spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“They raise serious questions about ethics of methods used on these animals. Cows have been implanted with embryos that contain human genetic materials, resulting in terrible deformities, still births and suffering.
“Photographs of deformities have been suppressed by AgResearch in case they jeopardise public and commercial investment in genetic modification.
“Transparency around animal welfare is being compromised for genetic engineering.
“The one existing New Zealand GE animal field trial site, at AgResearch’s Ruakura facility, has been given a further $1.2m by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in the 2015 Science Investment Round for more experiments on goats, to produce pharmaceuticals that are already made in factory vats. That programme is a partnership with Auckland University, and Transgenic Proteins NZ Ltd, a company co-owned by Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston.
“When I visited the Ruakura GE facility, I found that goat and cow experiments have had huge pregnancy failures (85% in goats), and in one goat herd, there was a dominance of hermaphroditic offspring, which were then hormonally induced to milking at seven months old.
“It’s safe to say most New Zealanders would be horrified to know their taxpayer money is being spent this way.
“The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification (RCGM) in 2000 was clear that animals used for food production should not be used as pharmaceutical factories.
“We believe that animals must not be used in genetic engineering experiments, or suffer in the name of research. We will work to eliminate methods that cause animals to suffer or prevent them from expressing their normal behaviour, such as the work done at Ruakura.
“The development of genetically engineered animals for research with these inherent deformities and susceptibilities must stop.
“AgResearch has important research and development strands, but the GE animal programme, undermines its reputation and that of first class primary production in New Zealand,” said Mr Browning