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5-Animals: New Zealand court decided against MAdGE

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                                  PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GM activists claim safety neglected
SOURCE: The New Zealand Herald, by Angela Gregory
DATE:   June 11, 2003

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GM activists claim safety neglected

A group opposing genetic modification of cows argued in court yesterday that
Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and a watchdog agency had failed to
protect the public.

Mothers Against Genetic Engineering Inc (Madge) had sought a judicial review
after the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) agreed to an
application by the Government's biggest science company, AgResearch, to put copies
of human and other animal genes into cows.

The review began in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.

Wearing cow masks, a group of mothers formed a silent line outside the

In Wellington, Madge members served milk garnished with mice at Midland

The group believes Ms Hobbs failed in her duty to enforce the Hazardous
Substances and New Organism Act, which required Erma to minimise risks and
approach with caution the creation of unknown organisms.

In opening Madge's submissions before Justice Judith Potter, lawyer Peter
Andrew said both Ms Hobbs and Erma had unlawfully fallen well short of their
watchdog roles.

They had a vital role to protect the health and safety of New Zealanders but
had failed to do so, particularly by allowing an outdoor phase of the
AgResearch project.

In its last stages, the genetically modified cows would be fully grown and
studied in an "outdoor laboratory".

Mr Andrew said it was in fact a farm-style pastoral grazing unit at Ruakura,
and Erma had acted outside its jurisdiction by allowing such a field trial.

Madge argued that the key risk was of horizontal gene transfer, but only
monitoring was offered as a control.

Mr Andrew said the application for the outdoor development of transgenic
cattle had been significant as the first of its kind under the legislation.

It was also the first since the Report of the Royal Commission on Genetic
Modification, which saw a compelling need for an effective framework for
ethical decision-making on such issues.

Mr Andrew said very high risk assessments were required by law, and to
maintain public confidence.

But the approach taken by Ms Hobbs and her officials was so cursory that in
law no decision was made.

"This can be categorised as an unlawful abdication of statutory function."

He said the minister's officials were obliged, but failed, to give proper
consideration to whether Ms Hobbs should call in the application and decide it

Erma then failed to act lawfully by giving no weight to ethical
considerations in a manner required by the legislation. "Important issues had effectively
been decided by default."

Earlier, lawyers for Erma and AgResearch had warned Justice Potter they
would challenge some of the evidence presented by Madge as inadmissible.

They considered some to be unqualified opinion, argumentative, invidious or
not relevant to the questions of law which were under scrutiny.

The review continues today.

                                  PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  AgResearch manipulates more than genes
SOURCE: MAdGE, New Zealand, Press Release
DATE:   June 13, 2003

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AgResearch Manipulates More Than Genes 
13 June 2003
AgResearch's own legal counsel has contradicted their organisation's claim
that its project to insert human and other animal genes into cows may result
in cures for diseases such as multiple sclerosis. 

Today is the fourth day of a judicial review at Auckland’s High Court, in
which the mothers’ group  MAdGE is challenging AgResearch, The Environmental
Risk Management Authority, and Environment Minister Marian Hobbs over the way
permission was granted for AgResearch to proceed with its controversial plans
to insert human, mice, deer, goat and sheep genes into cows.

Earlier this week AgResearch CEO Doctor Keith Steele said he hoped that
research would result in potential treatments or cures for diseases such as
multiple sclerosis. But on Thursday at the High Court, AgResearch legal counsel
Justin Smith, in his opening submissions said: “The stated objectives of the
application are to develop transgenic cattle that can express functional
proteins in their milk and to develop transgenic cattle to study gene function and
genetic performance”.

Questioned about the research, he went on to advise the court that: “It
could not be said, and nor would AgResearch say - and it is certainly far too
early to be able to make the claim - that any therapeutic cures or treatments
for diseases would eventuate from this research.” 

MAdGE has struggled against a perception that it opposes genetic research
for the cure of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. MAdGE has never opposed
ethical medical research in the lab. It does, however, have a deep concern
about the risks of allowing GE organisms into food and the environment and the
potentially disastrous consequences both to trade and to future generations.

                                  PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GM decision 'reasonable'
SOURCE: The New Zealand Herald, by Angela Gregory
DATE:   June 12, 2003

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GM decision 'reasonable'

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and her officials acted reasonably in
allowing a national body of experts to decide on an application for the
development of genetically modified cows, the High Court at Auckland heard yesterday.

Their actions have been challenged in a judicial review brought by Mothers
Against Genetic Engineering (Madge), which wants to overturn a decision
allowing AgResearch to grow GM cows.

The group argued that a decision in favour of the project by the Environment
Risk Management Authority (Erma) was invalid because Ms Hobbs unlawfully
failed to exercise her call-in powers under the Hazardous Substances and New
Organism Act.

But counsel for Ms Hobbs and the Ministry for the Environment yesterday
argued there were no reasons the minister should have considered doing so.

Lawyer Bronwyn Arthur said ministry officials followed the proper legal
procedure, and had considered whether the application carried significant

They all decided that it did not trigger any of the criteria which would
require the minister to consider whether she should call in over the

The act provided for call-ins where any decision on an application would
have significant economic, environmental, international or health effects, or
any significant effects in an area in which the authority lacked sufficient
knowledge or experience.

Ms Arthur said the ministry officials did not believe any of those applied
in this case.

No applications had ever been called in under the act, which she said was
not surprising. The act did not require any report explaining why the ministry
found the effects were not considered significant.

"Just because there is no written record of the assessment, or a final
report to the minister from the ministry, does not mean that an assessment was not

Ms Hobbs was aware of the AgResearch application and had no concerns about

Ms Arthur said a Bioethics Council established in December last year was
intended to take a strategic approach to ethical issues, and Erma could consider
ethical dimensions case by case.

The application was for the development of new organisms, not their release,
and the ethical issues were not novel, as human genes had been placed in
non-human hosts before.

Ms Arthur said that if Madge succeeded, the outcome would probably remain
the same after substantial time and expense.

Erma lawyers yesterday opened their case, arguing that the authority's
members had weighed up all the risks and no new information had changed their

Mary Scholtens, QC, said the court should not be dragged into assessing the
relative merits of controversial scientific arguments, but focus on the
correctness of Erma's approach to matters of law.

                                  PART IV
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Mothers' Day in Court Set
SOURCE: MadGE, New Zealand, Press Release
DATE:   June 9, 2003

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Mothers' Day in Court Set
Mothers V Government in GE Test Case

The High Court case brought by Mothers Against Genetic Engineering in Food
and the Environment (MAdGE) against the Enviromental Risk Management Authority
(ERMA), Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and Crown research Institute,
AgResearch, will commence in Auckland next week on Tuesday 10th June.

The groundbreaking case, which is attracting strong interest among
international media, is an attempt by the mothers to tighten New Zealand's
bio-security procedures.

"This case is extremely important for New Zealand as a country reliant on
the export of dairy and meat products to world markets where there is an
overwhelming rejection of GE foods. In our view ERMA's decision to approve the
creation of GE cows is ethically bankrupt and legally unsound; setting a bad
precedent. The law requires a rigorous assessment of all the possible adverse
affects of the release of Genetically modified organisms into the environment.
ERMA has failed in this respect, and the adverse affects to the New Zealand
environment, public health and our export markets are potentially devastating"
said Kate Woodd, legal spokeswoman for MAdGE today.

The case was sparked when, in September last year, ERMA gave AgResearch the
go ahead to insert human, sheep, mice and deer genes into cows during its
research into genetically modified milk products. AgResearch was also given
permission to release these GE cattle into the environment even though ERMA found
that this experiment carried a significant risk of creating new diseases.

MAdGE is concerned that the system supposed to protect New Zealanders from
the unknown risks of genetic research is not being adhered to. It will argue
that Marion Hobbs, who oversees the hazardous substances and new organisms
act, failed woefully in her duty to act in a precautionary manner. The Minister
should have enforced the act by requiring ERMA to minimise risks and approach
with caution the creation of unknown organisms.

MAdGE, whose members include mothers from Northland to Bluff, has a deep
concern about the risks of allowing GE organisms into food and the environment.
While it does not oppose ethical medical research in the lab, it believes the
process by which ERMA allows GE experiments to go ahead is slack, and points
out that ERMA has never turned down an application to conduct GE research.

MAdGE's case overcame its first hurdle when it won the right, against
strenuous opposition from AgResearch, to proceed to this high court judicial review
without having to pay security for AgReserach's costs. In allowing the case
to proceed to judicial review, Justice Ellen France observed that the
findings would assist the Minister for the Environment, and ERMA, in approaching
other applications in future. The case will be held in the High Court at
Auckland next week before Justice Potter for 3 days commencing Tuesday June 10th
2003. Lawyers Peter Andrew and Jamie Ferguson will be representing MAdGE.


 Hartmut Meyer       
 Kleine Wiese 6         
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