National to end GE ban

Judith Collins has announced:

A National government will end New Zealand’s ban on gene editing and genetic modification to unlock enormous benefits for climate change, agriculture and health science, National’s Science, Innovation, and Technology spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“New Zealand can be a world leader in reducing agricultural emissions and benefit from other innovations in health, nutrition and the environment with gene technology rules that are fit-for-purpose,” says Ms Collins.

“Gene technology is being used around the world to treat cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and blood disorders. It is also being used to combat climate change and protect the natural environment.

“It has been used in New Zealand laboratories since the 1970s, but restrictive rules, drafted in the 1990s, make research outside the lab all but impossible. This means our scientists must head overseas to conduct further research.

“A National government will make New Zealand’s biotechnology rules fit for purpose so we can benefit from the huge advances in gene technology which will help grow the economy, reduce the cost of living, lift incomes, and afford the public services New Zealanders deserve.

This is great news, and well overdue. The science is long settled that GE is safe. Any Green activist who actually sincerely is concerned about climate change should welcome this. Ag Research have been working on a strain of ryegrass that could reduce methane emissions by 23% from livestock. But they can’t even test it in NZ.

The former PM’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman has said:

The science is as settled as it will be… [I]t is safe, there are no significant ecological or health concerns associated with the use of advanced genetic technologies… If we are to remain a biological economy, we will have to have another [national]conversation about it.”

And the current PMCSA, Dame Juliet Gerard has said:

“[O]ur current legal and regulatory frameworks are not fit for purpose… Hypothetically, if CRISPR-Cas [gene editing] were used to cure your grandmother’s cancer, a case could be made that she was a new organism and therefore if she lived, she could not leave containment. These anomalies need addressing.”

The Productivity Commission has also identified our current regulatory settings as a major impediment.

The main aspects of National’s policy is:

  1. End the effective ban on GE and GM technologies in New Zealand
  2. Create a biotech regulator to ensure safe and ethical use of biotechnology
  3. Streamline approvals for trials and use of non-GE/GM biotech

I am very excited by the fact that if we get a change of Government, we may finally get a more balanced approach to GM in New Zealand.

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