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Gene editing kits are creating a new risk

Gene editing kits are creating a new biosecurity and public health risk for New Zealand that needs to be addressed.

GE Free NZ is calling for the government to introduce controls on the importation of gene editing kits.

The New York Times made an investigation that found young adults are buying online gene editing kits to 'play around with genetic engineering at home'.

In one case a biotech executive injected himself with an edited treatment for H.I.V, but instead of killing the virus the gene increased the viral load. [1]

To protect New Zealanders from the cavalier use and creation of potentially dangerous home made gene edited bio viruses, MPI must ensure strict border controls. Mandatory declaration and other measures are needed to restrict the spread of gene kits.

New Zealand was the first country to address the new gene editing technologies. In 2010, Sustainability Council of New Zealand Trust challenged the EPA's approval for the use of new gene editing technologies. [2]

The EPA ignored its own staff, and The Sustainability Council challenged the Authority's interpretation of the HSNO Act. The court ruled the new technologies using laboratory manipulation of DNA that had developed after 1996, have to be regulated.

“The risk is also to Australia which must also ensure the health and safety of Australians by enacting legislation that recognises the dangers of unregulated gene editing technologies” said Jon Carapiet GE Free NZ spokesperson

Australia Office of Gene Technology is currently in the third phase review of its gene technology scheme and consulting on the best way to “Protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the environment, by identifying risks posed by or as a result of gene technology…” [3]

New Zealand now has the most advanced legislation regarding the new gene editing technologies that would be a good model for Australia in respect to trade issues and safety.

[2] Sustainability Council of New Zealand Trust v. The Environmental Protection Authority: Gene editing technologies and the law https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5033166/
[3] https://consultations.health.gov.au/best-practice-regulation/review-of-national-gene-technology-scheme-phase3/

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