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New Zealand: The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill

August 6th, 2004

Environmentalists and others are opposing a proposed change to a bill on assisted reproduction that, if enacted, would make New Zealand the first country in the world to sanction inheritable genetic modification (IGM).

The provision, part of the draft Human Assisted Reproduction Technology (HART) bill, went almost unnoticed in New Zealand until recently, and has attracted no attention at all outside the country.

The HART bill would prohibit a number of widely opposed procedures, including reproductive cloning, the creation of hybrid embryos for reproductive purposes, the sale of embryos and gametes, and commercial surrogacy. But it would put decisions about IGM under the auspices of a Ministerial Advisory Committee.

IGM has been called the "hydrogen bomb" of the new human genetic technologies, and has previously been legally prohibited in New Zealand. The proposed language thus represents a serious weakening of commitment to ensure that IGM is not developed or used.

The effort now taking shape in New Zealand, led by GE-Free New Zealand, is working to add IGM to the list of prohibited technologies in the HART bill. GE Free-New Zealand's Tremane Barr suggests that NZ citizens write to their local newspapers and visit their local Members of Parliaments about the topic. Those outside the country can monitor the home page of the GE-Free NZ website for ongoing updates and suggestions about how to support their efforts.


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