Rainey Collins Chairman James Johnston was pleased to address the launch of a ground-breaking international study at Parliament recently.

In his capacity as Chairman of the New Zealand Law Foundation James Johnston said: “The New Zealand Law Foundation is delighted to have been the catalyst for such important research and to see the publication of this first report.  It is an important step towards ensuring the law in New Zealand is well positioned to meet the legal and ethical challenges arising from gene biotechnology.  It is crucial that the debate is well informed.”

“While the project will determine the effect of rapid advancement in gene technologies on New Zealand law, the debate must be wider to include scientific, medical, ethical, cultural, economic spiritual and philosophical perspectives.  This is work with global implications that has the potential to touch the lives of every New Zealander.”

The report, commissioned by the New Zealand Law Foundation poses important challenges about the emergence of genetic technologies in medicine.

The Human Genome Research Project is a three year project, based at the University of Otago but including international expertise from the University of Glasgow and Stanford University.  It was established in response to concerns that the development of the law was lagging behind developments in technological advancement.

The first report from the project, which involves New Zealand and international researchers working together, focuses on preimplantation genetic diagnosis or PGD.  PGD is the scientific process whereby embryos are created outside the mother and then tested for genetic disorders.  An embryo that is free of known genetic disorders is then implanted in the mother. The Government began funding of PGD this year.