genetics

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Scientists plan human genes for cows, goats

By Eloise Gibson

A proposal to put human genes into goats, sheep and cows to try to get the animals to make human proteins in their milk will be in the public spotlight next week.

Submitters will have Monday and Tuesday to tell the Environmental Risk Management Authority what they think of plans by AgResearch to breed and keep genetically modified animals at its Ruakura research facility, near Hamilton.

AgResearch says that if the experiment works, proteins from the animals could be used to make cheaper "biopharmaceuticals" to treat human diseases.

The company has already been breeding transgenic cows. Now it wants approval to continue working with the cows, and add sheep and goats to the trial.

The breast cancer drug Herceptin was developed using genetic modification and AgResearch says such treatments have "huge" marketvalue.

But opponents say it has exaggerated the possible benefits of the trial, and given authorities far too little information about what it plans to do with the proteins if it can makethem.

More than 90 per cent of the 1545 people who made written submissions opposed the plan - most using a pre-prepared form. Four submissions supported it and six did not say.

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