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Extension of moratorium on cloning proposed

New Zealand News
Source: Press Release by MEDSAFE
4 April 2003

The Minister of Health is proposing to extend a moratorium on biotechnical procedures such as xenotransplantation, cloning and germ procedures for a further two years - to 30 June 2005.

The Medicines Act was amended in May 2002 to implement a moratorium on the conducting of specified biotechnical procedures: xenotransplantation
(transplanting animal cells, tissues, or organisms to humans or mixing body material between animals and humans), and germ cell line procedures
(procedures that attempt to modify the genome of an embryo).

The rationale for the moratorium was to allow time for parliament to pass laws to set controls on xenotransplantation, cloning and germ procedures. The legislation was intended to be interim only, hence the expiry date for the moratorium.

Work is underway in two areas to address the lack of regulation of xenotransplantation and germ cell line procedures.

It is unlikely, however, that legislation will be in place before late 2004 or early 2005.

The first piece of legislation is MP Dianne Yates' Member's Bill (currently before the Health Select Committee) provides a vehicle for the regulation of germ cell line procedures. This legislation is unlikely to be passed before early to mid 2004.

The second measure is a review of the Human Tissues Act. This provides an opportunity to develop proposals for the regulation of xenotransplantation. A discussion document is intended for release in mid 2003. It is unlikely that legislation will be in place before late 2004 or early 2005.

While there is no intention to revisit the policy of having a moratorium in place, the Ministry is interested in views on the period of time proposed.

It is also interested in hearing the views of any groups who believe that there are exceptional reasons why the moratorium should be extended for a lesser period.

For more information contact Susan Martindale, Team leader for Medsafe, on
(04) 496 2092 or visit the website www.medsafe.govt.nz