National will end ban on GE and GM to benefit NZ

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.

“Like Australia, National will introduce a biotechnology regulator to make evidence-based decisions following public feedback. The regulator’s role will be to protect human health and the natural environment and manage ethical concerns while allowing New Zealanders to access the benefits of advanced biotechnology. In New Zealand, human embryonic GE or GM would not be authorised.

National’s Harnessing Biotech Plan will:

  • End the effective ban on gene editing (GE) and genetic modification (GM) in New Zealand.
  • Create a dedicated regulator to ensure safe and ethical use of biotechnology.
  • Streamline approvals for trials and use of non-GE/GM biotech in line with other OECD countries.

“New Zealand has already created genetically modified grasses in labs which would significantly reduce our agricultural emissions, but our restrictive, outdated rules currently mean no GE crops can be grown in New Zealand. GE crops can also be used to resist pests without the use of pesticides, keeping waterways clean.

“GE has the potential to deliver vast benefits for human health. Recently a 13-year-old in London was cured of cancer using GE.

“New Zealand is at risk of being left behind with Australia and most of the European Union having safely embraced gene technology.  A National government will enable New Zealand to responsibly open access to the benefits of gene technology.”

Note: View the policy document here.