21 Oct 2019

Calls for change to laws on gene editing

From Nine To Noon, 9:09 am on 21 October 2019
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Photo: Royal Society Te Apārangi

Should our 16-year-old laws governing biotechnology be overhauled to loosen regulations around gene editing and genetic modification? The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, which tightly controls the use of GE and GM organisms, has not been substantially updated since the 2001 Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. The Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor Dr Juliet Gerrard says our current law is not fit for purpose.  She's backed by the Royal Society, which has just issued a discussion document calling for urgent discussion and debate.  Meanwhile reforms in Australia have effectively deregulated gene editing in animals, plants, and human cell lines that don't introduce new genetic material. Kathryn talks with Dr Juliet Gerrard, Senior lecturer at the Bioethics Centre at the University of Otago, Dr Mike King and AgResearch Senior Scientist Dr Bjorn Oback, who's leading a $10 million study, attempting to create dairy cows that produce more milk, create fewer emissions and have greater heat tolerance. The PM's Chief Science Advisor's paper and the Royal Society's paper.



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