Monday, April 22, 2024

Govt reveals timeline for GE reforms

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Tech minister says NZ scientists will be empowered to ‘do their research here’ and not abroad.
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The government plans to pass legislation to reform New Zealand’s rules around gene technologies by the end of 2025, Minister of Science, Innovation and Technology Judith Collins says.

Collins told the Life Sciences Summit in Wellington that the reforms would remove barriers that prevent scientists from getting on with their jobs.

“We will ensure that you are empowered to do your research here, instead of forcing you to go overseas for trials and field testing,” Collins said.

“The new rules will be future focused and designed to accommodate advances in gene technologies and methods. 

“They will be based on managing the risks of these technologies, rather than focusing solely on the methods of genetic modification.”

Under the current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, fewer than 10 gene-edited or genetically modified products have been approved for release outside labs. 

No commercial GE or GM crops are grown in New Zealand, and no fresh produce developed using gene technologies is sold here.

Collins said countries such as Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom have safely embraced gene technologies, and the European Union is working to liberalise its rules.

“We are being left behind, putting our climate goals at risk and depriving Kiwis of significant advances in healthcare, environmental protection and economic growth.”

Collins said a regulator will oversee the new system and ensure ethical and cultural concerns are well managed. 

“It will involve a streamlined approval process to reduce the burden on both our scientists and businesses, and help you to navigate the approvals process so you do not get lost in confusing bureaucracy.”

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