DairyNZ: Genetics laws need review
15 August 2019
DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle is echoing calls from both the Royal Society and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor that it is time for the Government to look at whether our genetics laws are fit for purpose in the modern age.
“Science and innovation is so important to New Zealand’s primary industries, yet our laws and regulations on biotechnology are now 20 years old”, Dr Mackle says.
“When it comes to genetics there are a broad spectrum of possible applications that are not currently permitted, ranging from gene editing right through to genetic modification.
“The time has come for us to have a mature national conversation about the application of gene editing technologies in New Zealand.
“If climate change is a sufficiently serious global challenge for New Zealand to be considering how to restructure our entire economy, then every tool should be considered as we look to reduce emissions.
“That should include further exploration of the role gene editing may have to play, particularly when it comes to climate resilience and reducing agricultural emissions.
“Other possible applications for agriculture, and the rest of New Zealand, include supporting our competitive advantage, assisting in the control or eradication of pests, and the improvement of environmental outcomes.
“Any conversation would need to cautiously weigh potential benefits against possible risks and implications for New Zealand’s position in global markets and our broader GM-free branding.
“The reality with gene editing is that many other western countries – including Australia – have now approved its use.
“I’m not saying gene editing is the answer, I’m saying it is the right time to ask the question” Dr Mackle concluded.
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