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Warning Against ‘Wild West' of Gene Editing

30/04/2019

The proposal in Australia to deregulate gene-editing (GE) techniques [1], threatens the safety of consumers and the environment. Gene Editing uses a new advanced laboratory technique that genetically engineers enzymes and RNA to create novel organisms.

‘Each gene transformation needs to be tested to evaluate what has changed, To deregulate these organisms opens up a "Wild West" of genetic engineering," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ.

A study by Tang (2018) looking at the different breeding and GE techniques found that gene edited plants using CRISPR which were grown in cell cultures had around 200 mutations in the genome. These mutations were passed down to the next generation at a rate six times that for non GM lines.[2] The majority of GE plants have been created to be tolerant to the herbicide Roundup - a herbicide linked to non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - putting at risk those unknowingly ingesting it in food.

It is concerning to see the TOP political party promoting the deregulation of gene editing in line with Australia, when they have no science to base their policy on. [3]

Deregulation is actually anti-science. It denies the real potential for harm that demands oversight in the public interest.

It is misleading propaganda of the Party to say that GE has “been all but impossible to use”. Since the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering (2001) New Zealand has approved 10 GE field trials at the expense of taxpayers; after 20 years and $millions of taxpayer funds all have failed or had poor results and have not produced the outcomes promised to the public.

We would like to ask the TOP party to provide the evidence that GE will not harm the environment or transfer to other organisms; that it will not pollute the seed supply with patented genes; to release human and animal feeding studies that show it is safe to eat in the long term.

Until GE technology, which is only the 6-years-old, has shown safety the TOP party is inaccurate and misleading the public in its desire to find traction as a political party.

The next generation are calling for New Zealand to take a responsible approach toward safe environmental policies that will enhance the country they will inherit.

That focus must be on regenerative organic agriculture that leads to climate resilience and protects from global warming.

References:

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01282-8

[2] Tang X., Liu G., Zhou J., Ren Q., You Q., Tian L., et al. (2018) A large-scale whole-genome sequencing analysis reveals highly specific genome editing by both Cas9 and Cpf1 (Cas12a) nucleases in rice. Genome Biol. 19:84. 10.1186/s13059-018-1458-5

[3]http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1904/S00265/the-opportunities-party-releases-a-gene-editing-policy.htm

ENDS:

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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