More MS news articles for May 2001

Law Change Promised If Innovations Under Threat

By Staff Reporter Patric Lane at 5:10pm, 3rd May 2001

Changes will be made to the laws governing how biotechnology projects are approved if it turns out innovations are being stifled, says Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs.

Her comments came in the wake of the High Court decision ordering the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to reconsider its approval of a project to insert copies of a human gene into cows as part of work on treatment for multiple sclerosis.

The Court ruled that ERMA's interpretation of the law was flawed, and has set aside the authority's decision to let the experiments go ahead.

Ms Hobbs told Parliament it was too soon to say whether the ruling meant all of the Authority's previous decisions should also be reviewed.

She said ERMA was analysing the 100-page court ruling and she would ensure it made any adjustments needed to its methods and processes when assessing future projects.

Ms Hobbs said if the case and current laws were found to unnecessarily restricted biotechnology innovations, the Government would change the legislation under which the authority operated.

Meanwhile, AgResearch, the crown research institute that was carrying out the project, said it would seek court approval to continue its experiments while legal problems were sorted out.

AgResearch chief executive, Keith Steele, said the whole process had taken two and a half years and that this sort of research was essential if New Zealand was to build a knowledge based economy.

© NewsRoom 2001