Experiments to genetically engineer animals in New Zealand over the past 15 years have proven to be expensive and unethical failures, says the Soil & Health Association, and must be stopped. Soil & Health commends GE Free NZ’s report ‘GE Animals in New Zealand’ for providing a clear overview of animal genetic engineering research in Aotearoa using sheep, cattle and goats.
“The suffering that hundreds of animals have endured is totally unacceptable and goes way beyond the guidelines of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,” said Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health. “This report catalogues all the documented deaths, deformities, abortions, sterility and numerous other health problems that the GE research animals have been subjected to.”
“We can’t afford to waste any more taxpayer money on these unethical experiments that have failed to produce any medical benefit,” said Thomson. “Instead we need to redeploy the skills of AgResearch scientists into sustainable and ethical research, such as into organic practices, that will benefit our farming, environment and health.”
The GE animal experiments have been completely unnecessary, as they have used animals as ‘bioreactors’ to produce therapeutic substances that are already available in other forms, says Soil & Health.
One point highlighted in GE Free NZ’s report is the fact that AgResearch has refused to release photographs of the animals involved in the experiments. “If these photos were released, people could see for themselves the needless suffering experienced by these animals,” said Thomson.
Together with Soil & Health’s promotion of healthy organic food and farming, the Association supports high standards of animal welfare, based on the ‘five freedoms’ that have been adopted by many organisations around the world.