Should we use gene editing in plants?

Wednesday 17 Oct 2018

Should we use GE in plants? A new discussion paper evaluates the potential uses and risks of gene editing for New Zealand’s primary industries. New Zealand has historically had a conservative approach to gene editing, but embracing gene editing technology could allow us to create disease-resistant m?nuka honey and remove certain allergens from milk, a new Royal Society Te Ap?rangi paper says.

This discussion paper – the third in a series from the Society's Gene Editing in Aotearoa project – states gene editing could bring a range of benefits for our agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors, zoning in on apples, m?nuka, ryegrass, wilding pines, and dairy cows.

Panel member Dr Phil Wilcox, a statistician from the University of Otago told Newstalk ZB's Kate Hawkesby "the whole point of this exercise was to... help inform public decision making about whether or not we should be using these technologies, and under what circumstances."

The scientists involved acknowledge that many members of the public are wary of genetic modification and Dr Tony Conner, science group leader at AgResearch, told Stuff: "The difficulty with public perceptions of any genetic technology is that it tends to be skewed in favour of the worst-case scenario, even when there is no real evidence of harm."

The Society is seeking public feedback on the paper and holding three workshops around the country this month to discuss the findings. The last one is in Dunedin next week.

The SMC gathered expert reaction to the report.

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Source: Royal Society


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