This prompted a hysterical response from GE Free NZ, who likened the Australian move to the “Wild West” of gene editing.
Opportunities Party leader Geoff Simmons has stated “GE Free NZ are scaremongers who don’t or won’t understand the science. Because they don’t understand it, they fear it. New Zealand faces a number of environmental challenges including climate change, kauri dieback and predators like rats, stoats and possums. By the time we work out so-called ‘natural solutions’ to these problems our taonga will be gone and we’ll be over-run with pests.”
“Gene editing is very different to old school genetic modification. No new genetic material is added and it has identical outcomes to selective breeding. Do GE Free NZ also oppose selective breeding?”
Innovation expert Anne French helped develop Opportunities Party policy. She says “GE Free NZ have asked for evidence for our stance. There is plenty of evidence in our detailed policy document including releases from 129 Nobel Laureates and New Zealand’s own Royal Society.”
“In contrast, GE Free NZ have offered up one paper which states exactly the opposite of what they claim. The paper concludes that the process of cell culture (not gene editing) causes mutations - and cell culture is completely unregulated in New Zealand. Our policy requires researchers to prove that no other changes were made in the organism. GE Free NZ choose to fear-monger over engaging in intelligent discussion. ”
Geoff Simmons continues “Instead of being a ‘Wild West’ the Australian proposal is seen by international experts as a ‘middle ground’ between the laissez faire approach of the United States, Brazil and Argentina; and the strict approach of the European Union.
Simmons concludes “GE Free NZ’s lack of understanding of the science is breathtaking. In fact, their response to our policy borders on outright misdirection.”
“We hope there is greater depth of thought behind the stances of the Green Party and Labour Party on this issue, although the Greens seem to be avoiding the discussion.”
The Opportunities Party recognises the need for dialogue amongst stakeholders. We all live here and are invested in the best outcomes for our country. Burying our collective heads in the sand will not solve our serious problems.