New Zealand exporters and government Ministers must speak out against deregulation of gene editing in Australia, and call for both countries to maintain world class ethical, safety and traceability standards. International trust in the reputation of Australian and New Zealand product is at risk if controls on GE are sidelined.
Australia could become one of the first countries in the world to deregulate several new genetic modification (GM) techniques in animals, plants and microbes if government plans succeed. Anyone could use techniques like CRISPR to genetically modify animals without the regulator or the public knowing.(1)
It is not just the fate of New Zealand's reputation and food safety standards that are at risk because of decisions in Australia.
The new GM methods are being used to develop more muscular and disease resistant livestock, designed to endure confinement without getting sick; and to create animals that never reach sexually maturity so they eat less food.
"The risk of extreme animal cruelty is increased if a wild west of gene editing is allowed," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ (in food and environment).
There is urgent need for the re-establishment of the Bioethics Council that was set up at the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification but then abolished by the government.
Jon Carapiet- spokesman 0210507681