BIOTech NZ Exec Director excited by potential legislative changes to lift ban on gene editing

BIOTech NZ Exec Director excited by potential legislative changes to lift ban on gene editing

The National Party has promised they will end an effective ban on gene editing and genetic modification if they win the upcoming election later this year.

The news has been widely welcomed by the scientific community including BIOTech NZ's Executive Director Dr. Zahra Champion who told REX host Dominic George it is a very exciting time for biotechnology.

"National has been very bold in saying that we need to have step change here in New Zealand and we need to enable our researchers t have all the tools in the toolbox," she said.

"We haven't had a government that has wanted to tackle this conversation or tackle the regulations."

Dr Champion expressed concern that if legislation in Aotearoa doesn't change soon, New Zealand could get left behind internationally when it comes to this type of technology and innovation particularly in the rural sector.

"The rest of the world is using these technologies.

"A lot of these technologies that our scientists and companies are crying out for a not new."

She said it's not only researchers and farmers who are calling out for these technologies, but the average consumer as well.

"We are seeing that the consumer is also buying products that are more environmentally sustainable or giving all of these other benefits.

"I think it's really important that we do move forward with the rest of the world and to be able to compete with the rest of the world as well."

With ongoing discussions about how New Zealand can reduce its carbon footprint and emissions, particularly in the rural sector, Dr Champion believes now is the perfect time to start implementing gene editing technology that can help with this.

"Our consumers are really driven towards the sustainability, environmentally friendly, reducing the impact on climate change, we are seeing that.

"What we are asking our farmers and scientists and also in the health space is we want to see step change but you have to use the same tools in the toolbox but come up with something different and that's just not acceptable.

"We need these new tools to be able to come up with these great innovations."

With the national election set to be decided in September later this year, Dr Zahra is hopeful there will be positive legislative changes that will allow gene editing and modification to innovate and thrive in Aotearoa.