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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 27 November 2007

Val Orchard and Manuka Henare from ERMA give examples of genetically modified medicines and describe how these medicines have changed some people’s views about genetic modification.

(Note: ERMA was disestablished in June 2011 and its functions were incorporated into the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).)


Val Orchard (ERMA) While people are really, really worried about GMO foods, they are lot more accepting of GMO medicine. So for example, there is a cholera vaccine that is genetically modified, and it’s modified to make it more effective against cholera, and people seem to be a lot more accepting of those kinds of medical benefits.

Manuka Henare (ERMA) Yes, in the case of diabetes, one of the most popular insulins is a GM one, and so I've been to many meetings, especially in the Māori community, where people will say we are opposed to GMO, so when you ask, “Well, how many people with diabetes are in the room?”, up go many hands, and “How many are using this insulin?”, and up go all the hands. And you say, “Well, that is a GM product”, oh, so that changes their attitude then, they suddenly realise that there is GM that is for the good of humanity, but there are still other concerns.

So the public perception of things is one thing, and there is a need, and we feel this strongly in ERMA, there is an educational need to inform and educate, and bring New Zealanders along with the science, so that we can make better and better and more informed decisions.