New Zealand anti-GMO activists’ rejection of gene editing could have dire economic consequnces

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

New Zealand urgently needs to have an informed discussion on new science technologies — and genetically modified organisms (GMO) and advanced gene editing technology are part of that discussion.

Colourful rhetoric about keeping New Zealand GMO-free should be balanced with what is happening globally and the advances in science since New Zealand introduced the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) in 1996.

If New Zealand doesn’t use science-based decision-making about adopting these advanced techniques, there will be economic ramifications.

Humans have been modifying plant and animal genomes to achieve desirable outcomes for thousands of years. Every time we choose to selectively breed the “best” (strongest, tallest, sweetest, most colourful) we usurp natural selection, exerting pressure on the evolutionary process to suit our needs.

Advanced gene editing technologies provide fast, cost-effective and safe methods for achieving the same desired outcomes in a precise, predictable and safe manner.

These benefits can include eradication of deadly diseases, addressing climate change and water quality issues, reducing the world’s reliance on oil and, significantly, feeding the world through a time of unprecedented population growth.

Since our own use of these technologies is limited by overly restrictive legislation and unnecessary local council interference, the potential for New Zealand remains speculative. However, a good indicator lies in two economic analyses conducted as part of separate field trial applications (Pinus radiata and rye grass), which estimated the combined benefits for these two species alone were up to $2 billion a year.

We need a regulatory framework that enables a risk assessment based on scientific fact, such that we can choose to enjoy the benefits of new innovations.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Agribusiness: It’s time for a fresh debate on GMOs


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