July 10, 2008

Four submissions have so far been received by New Zealand's Environmental Risk Management Authority over an application to use a genetically modified (GM) vaccine against equine influenza.

Public submissions close on July 29. A public hearing will be held if any of the submitters wish to be heard in person. Any hearing will most likely be in September or October.

The application has been made jointly by the New Zealand Racing Board and the Equine Health Association for Proteqflu and Proteqflu Te, which provides additional protection against tetanus.

They propose the vaccine's use only in the event of an outbreak and for horses bound for export markets where inoculation with this vaccine is mandatory before entry.

ProteqFlu was the same vaccine used to contain Australia's recent equine influenza outbreak.

The Green Party has voiced its concern over the application, saying the vaccine's use would kill the country's GE-free status.

"I am amazed that for the benefit of Australasia's gambling industry we are putting our GE-Free status at risk," said party co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.