Push to use gene editing to fight invasive predators rejected in New Zealand

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The least weasel is an invasive predator in New Zealand. Image credit: Cliff Watkinson | Shutterstock

A lobby group is calling for an end to a ban on investigating whether genetic technologies could be used to kill predators more humanely than 1080 poison.

Predator Free 2050 aims to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators by 2050, and has a number of government agencies involved in the plan including the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

But Predator Free 2050 is forbidden from carrying out any research which could lead to the use of genetic modification or gene editing, a letter written by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage shows.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said in the letter addressed to the chairwoman of Predator Free 2050 Jane Taylor that “gene editing is an unproven technology for predator control”.

Related article:  CRISPR immunizes chickens against deadly virus, potentially boosting global egg and meat production

In a recent statement, SPCA said it was  “against the use of poisons to kill animals due to the level of suffering they cause, as well as the nature of their use”.

It said there should be greater emphasis on looking for solutions that would enable species who cannot be removed entirely to co-exist in the environment instead.

“SPCA is not anti-pest control when it is justified. But as an animal welfare organisation, we advocate that any pest control measure – including poisons, GMO or any other strategies – undertaken must be humane.”

But Sage has ruled it out.

Read full, original post: Conservation minister rules out genetic modification in fight against predators

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