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The Opportunities Party releases a gene editing policy

MONDAY 29 APRIL 2019

1080 drops could be a thing of the past if New Zealand followed Australia by harnessing gene editing solutions.

New Zealand’s outdated legislation for genetic modification is hindering our ability to effectively solve major environmental challenges such as predator control and kauri dieback.

The Opportunities Party proposal would update New Zealand’s genetic modification laws in line with recent changes in Australia. It would enable scientists to use gene editing, which has identical outcomes to selective breeding. The treatment of traditional GMOs would remain unchanged.

Allowing gene editing research will mean New Zealand scientists could find answers to the major environmental and health problems facing New Zealand. Opportunities Party leader Geoff Simmons said an overhaul of the legislation is long overdue.

“Since the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification in 2001 it has been all but impossible to use GM technology in New Zealand. That was eighteen years ago - pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, and pre-smart phone. A lot has changed since that time, except for our regulations on genetics.

“Gene editing technology has more in common with ‘selective breeding’ than the genetic modification considered back in 2001. Yet our regulations treat all genetic research the same, regardless of whether it adds foreign DNA or merely switches a gene on or off. Successive governments have been deaf to the developing science and failed to keep our regulations up to date.

“Kiwis are famous for their “in-gene-uity”. But seriously, why would we hamper our ability to solve difficult environmental and health problems by banning the tools that we need to use? No other country will solve these problems for us.”

Dr Barry Scott, Professor of Molecular Genetics at Massey University (who is not an Opportunities Party member), said “The Opportunities Party proposal is very much in line with several overseas jurisdictions”.

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said “Used responsibly, gene editing holds the potential to save millions of lives and empower millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. It would be a tragedy to pass up the opportunity.”*

More on The Opportunities Party policy can be found at www.top.org.nz/top16.

Dr. Barry Scott, Professor of Molecular Genetics is Professor of Molecular Genetics at Massey University, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a principal investigator at BioProtection Research Centre.

Party leader Geoff Simmons is an economist and author with experience in New Zealand Treasury, the UK Civil Service, as a consultant and heading up the think-tank The Morgan Foundation. He was co-Deputy Leader of The Opportunities Party and developed much of the policy used during the 2017 Opportunities Party campaign.

*Bill Gates quote from Foreign Affairs “How CRISPR could transform Global Development” 2018

-ENDS-


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