Viewpoint: New Zealand’s ‘Pig-headed’ biotech crop regulations threaten nation’s economy

Image: Stuff
Image: Stuff

There is a new agricultural-based green revolution beginning around the world, and it’s a technique you’ve probably heard of before: gene editing. New types of rice, wheat, tomato, maize, soybean and other crops created through the CRISPR-Cas9 technology are already growing in fields in America and beyond. These enhanced products include wheat with a 30% increase in grain weight and tomatoes with a 5-fold increase in vitamin A levels.

The issue however is that these crops rely on ‘directed’ changes to DNA, which we categorise as ‘genetic modification’ (GM) under NZ law. This is despite the fact that the changes made are exactly the same as that created by sunlight, and a lot less than that from traditional breeding …. Worse still, the value we currently gain from our plant-based economy is under threat from far better crops being developed quickly around the world.

Related article:  Will allergen-free milk revive New Zealand's genetic engineering debate?

I am heartened that the Royal Society of New Zealand is developing fact sheets and discussion forums on gene editing …. I hope those who opposed GMOs in the late 1990s and at the turn of the century will not revert to the arguments of that era …. Would any of us want to visit a hospital that promises only 1990 techniques? New Zealand’s primary sector faces just this issue.

Read full, original article: NZ’s pig-headed rejection of GM is putting our agricultural future at risk

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