The peak association that represents New Zealand’s animal medicine and crop protection industries welcomes the National party’s new biotech policy.
Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says that updating New Zealand’s biotechnology regulations to embrace the latest science will “allow life-saving medicines, benefit the environment, eradicate pests and boost food production”.
“New Zealand is being stalled from adopting the latest science due to archaic laws that halt innovation.
“A change in direction is needed, and it’s pleasing to see the National Party set its intention to review laws that prevent options for curing disease and eradicating pests.”
Gene editing technology can help cure disease - especially those linked with a gene mutation. This includes avoiding the transmission of disease controlled by a single gene, notably the BRCA1 gene that's known to raise the risk of cancer.
Gene editing could also stop possums, rats and stoats from reproducing in New Zealand, to reduce the burden on our native plants and animals.
In the global arena, biotech is contributing to reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, improving human and animal health, decreasing pesticide spraying, and increasing world food production – and has been for more than two decades. “It’s time for New Zealand to catch up,” says Ross.
“The sooner we reduce the regulatory requirements for registering biotech products, the quicker we can improve our environmental, human health, and food-producing performance,” he adds.
This follows from the 2001 Royal Commission inquiry into biotech recommending that we ‘keep our options open and proceed carefully’.