More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Human genes in cows 'jumps the gun'


Scientists at the state-owned AgResearch Institute want to move ahead of the law and insert human genes into cows to find a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

The institute has been accused of "jumping the gun" by applying before laws have been drafted to consider the ethical implications.

It wants to do a series of experiments, each involving "several tens" of cows, in a "containment paddock" at Ruakura, near Hamilton.

It hopes to breed cows whose milk will contain proteins that can be extracted to help treat multiple sclerosis, and eventually other diseases.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons called on the Government last night to defer the application until it sets up a bioethics council, as recommended by the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification last year.

"There isn't even draft legislation to set up this council. AgResearch is rather jumping the gun."

The application is being notified in daily newspapers today by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma).

Submissions close on March 7.

AgResearch's general manager of science, Dr Paul Atkinson, said the application would allow continuation of research started 18 months ago to breed cows whose milk contains the human myelin protein.

The new breeding programme, if approved, will extend to other proteins, targeting a variety of diseases.

It is expected to take three to four years, and possibly up to 10.

A consultant to the Ngati Wairere people who are the tangata whenua of Ruakura, Maree Pene, said her tribe had been represented on a monitoring group set up by AgResearch last month, but still opposed the application because it involved "mixing of whakapapa [blood lines]".

The AgResearch application, posted on Erma's website last night, "recognises that the risk to the relationship of Maori [particularly Ngati Wairere] with their taonga [treasures] is likely to be significant".

But the application concludes: "AgResearch does not believe that this risk outweighs the benefits of the research."
Report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification

©Copyright 2002, New Zealand Herald