The Soil and Health Association is backing calls by the Green Party for a parliamentary inquiry into failed genetic experiments on animals.

Unacceptable death rates of laboratory animals have forced AgResearch to end its cloning trial, it was reported yesterday.

The Dominion Post said reports obtained under the Official Information Act detailed chronic arthritis, pneumonia, lameness and blood poisoning among the causes of cattle, sheep and goat deaths.

But the agency says it will continue to create more genetically engineered animals using new research methods.

The Soil and Health Association said AgResearch's decision to stop cloning its animals should also mean an end to its stem cell method of raising GE animals.

"AgResearch's own acknowledgement that the stem cell cloning replacement method was going to cause similar losses, should be the death knell on the bizarre experiments at AgResearch's GE facilities.

"The cloning technology was cruel and had a track record of very few live births, with resultant offspring prone to a variety of disabilities including arthritis, respiratory distress, deformities and ruptured ovaries, and now AgResearch still isn't guaranteeing any improvement," Soil and Health Organic NZ spokesman Steffan Browning said.

The Green's animal welfare spokeswoman, Sue Kedgley, also said yesterday the experiments should be halted altogether.

"A full parliamentary inquiry is needed into the ethics and animal welfare issues surrounding the failed GE trials at AgResearch's Ruakura facility," she said.

"An inquiry needs to investigate the extent of the failure of the first round of its genetic engineering trials on animals, and why it is that, despite these massive failures, AgResearch intends to push on with further trials."

- NZPA