A new gene-splitting technique must be defined as genetic engineering, says the Soil & Health Association. If not, more new techniques like it may be used in crops, food and other products without our knowledge, and with unknown consequences. Zinc finger nuclease involves splitting DNA strands so that genetic material may be inserted or removed.
“There is a raft of new technologies being developed that are the next wave of genetic engineering,” says Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health – Organic NZ. “These new technologies must be thoroughly and independently scrutinised and the precautionary principle applied. Otherwise, it’s an uncontrolled experiment that could have adverse effects for people, animals and the environment.”
The Soil & Health Association commends the Sustainability Council for challenging a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that zinc finger nuclease is not genetic engineering. The EPA committee that made the decision went against staff advice. The case will now be heard in the High Court in Wellington in November.