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DESIGN & STYLE

DIY Glow in the Dark Bacteria Kits Are Illegal in New Zealand

Kits banned after concern over turning genetics into a "plaything for schools".
By Laetitia Laubscher
April 07, 2015
  shares
By Laetitia Laubscher
April 07, 2015
  shares

New Zealanders, thanks to a mail order company in the States called Bio-Rad you can make all your childhood dreams come true and make your own glow-in-the-dark bacteria. Just kidding, no you can't. It's illegal.

lse_pglo_bacterial_tran_kit

But let's review what we've lost and why.

So here's the deal: for US $354 a pop, you can get yourself a UV pen, a petri dish, some 'nutrient broth', plasmid, a few tubes, a strain of E coli and an assortment of other things. This kit, when mixed correctly, allows glow enthusiasts to transform garden-variety bacteria into something a little more magnificent by introducing a gene from the bioluminescent jellyfish, Aequorea victoria, causing the bacteria to give off a fluorescent green glow under ultraviolet light. "The same procedure has been used to create 'designer proteins' which have led to the explosion of new health treatments, agricultural applications, and environmental solutions," the US mail order company states online.

No surprises then that 33 Bio-Rad Bacterial Education kits snuck across the New Zealand border, causing the MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) to have kittens.

Even though the materials within the kits - when put together correctly - produced a modified strain of E coli (a bacteria that in some circumstances can cause the likes of diarrhea, anemia and kidney failure in humans), MPI's investigation found that the bacteria produced by the Bio-Rad kits pose no danger to people. Regardless, they just weren't happy with people messing with nature. GE Free New Zealand spokesman Jon Carapiet said the kits were turning genetics into a "plaything for schools" and ignored the fact they were dealing with "complex natural systems".

Under New Zealand's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, these glow in the dark bacterium count as new organisms, which is illegal without first doing a few rounds of form-filling and line-waiting at a few various acronym government bodies (EPA and MPI).Apart from some work done in EPA and MPI-approved laboratories as well as well as two GE field trials, New Zealand is GE-free.

So no glowy bacteria then. Sigh.

 

Via Dominion Post

Published on April 07, 2015 by Laetitia Laubscher

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