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.