“The recently released papers by the Royal Society Te Apārangi note there are considerable benefits that gene editing can bring to our lives, particularly in health,” Environment Minister David Parker said.
The provisions governing gene editing, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), were amended in 2003 in line with the Government’s overall policy of proceeding with caution while preserving opportunities.
“I’m aware there are instances where gene editing techniques could be applied to improve the lives of New Zealanders and agree with the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor that there is a spectrum of genetic modification.
“Although New Zealand takes a precautionary approach, advancements in gene editing are not prohibited. There are already instances where the EPA has approved the use of modified organisms, for example Pexa-Vec currently used in clinical trials for the treatment of liver and kidney cancer.
“I have asked officials to advise me of where lower regulatory hurdles ought to be considered to enable medical uses that would result in no inheritable traits, or laboratory tests where any risk is mitigated by containment. The recommendation to clarify conflicting or inconsistent definitions across the regulatory framework will also be considered,” David Parker said.
“I am grateful to the Royal Society Te Apārangi for the material it has prepared. I look forward to hearing people’s views on this matter and considering the report’s recommendations in more detail.”