Harnessing Biotech

It is time for New Zealand to responsibly and safely open up access to the benefits of gene technology.

Biotechnology has the potential to deliver enormous benefits for New Zealand, from combatting climate change and making advances in health science to lifting agricultural productivity and boosting exports.

Breakthroughs in scientific techniques like gene editing (GE) and genetic modification (GM) are being used around the world to make progress towards solving major health, economic, and environmental challenges.

But because of New Zealand’s outdated biotechnology rules, we are being left behind, putting our climate goals at risk while depriving Kiwis of significant benefits in healthcare, environmental protection and economic growth.

National’s Harnessing Biotech Plan will:

1). End the effective ban on GE and GM in New Zealand.

  • National will update regulations to end the effective ban on genetic engineering (GE) and genetic modification (GM) in New Zealand.
  • The new legislation will allow for greater use of GE and GM while ensuring strong protections for human health and the environment.
  • The regulations will be risk-based and take into account a range of scientific, ethical, social, cultural and economic consequences of research and applications of gene editing or modification.
  • The new legislation will retain strict rules for older genetic modification techniques which combine genes from different species.

2). Create a dedicated regulator to ensure safe and ethical use of biotechnology.

  • National will establish a dedicated biotech regulator within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
  • This independent regulator will oversee the safe and ethical use of biotech – including GE/GM and non-GE/GM biotechnologies – in New Zealand.
  • It will regulate all forms of genetically edited or modified organisms, collaborate with relevant government agencies, and have its own independent board.

3). Streamline approvals for trials and use of non-GE/GM biotechnologies.

  • To accelerate progress in biotechnology, National will streamline the approvals process for trials and use of non-GE/GM biotechnologies for emissions reduction and other purposes, with the biotech regulator tasked with reducing delays for the safe introduction of biotechnologies into New Zealand.
  • The biotech regulator will grant approval for trials or use of biotech products where these have already been approved by at least two other OECD countries (or the EU and at least one OECD country outside the EU).

Read National’s Harnessing Biotech plan here