“New research shows that Kiwis are openminded to the use of genetic engineering advancements to progress our agriculture sector,” say ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“A survey conducted by Research First showed that those opposed to gene-editing for improved results on-farm are now a small minority, with only 15-19 per cent still opposed. This is hugely outweighed by the 48-52 per cent supportive and 31-33 per cent neutral on the topic.

“ACT has always said that if we want to get serious about reducing agricultural emissions we should be looking at technological advancements like this, before taxing and destocking.

“ACT would make changes to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act to allow the agriculture industry to access game-changing technology that can revolutionise agriculture.

“Take the High Metabolisable Energy (HME) ryegrass invented by New Zealand’s own AgResearch. The grass has the potential to reduce livestock methane emissions by around 23 per cent and ensure less nitrogen is excreted into the environment by livestock feeding on this ryegrass. The only problem is that thanks to our outdated legislation it is illegal to use in New Zealand.

“Former Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman highlighted this technology and suggested legislative change in his report to the Government in 2019: "They are not able to be field trialled here, but may be an effective way of sustaining productivity while lowering dairy cow numbers and the environmental burden of methane emissions.”

“Labour announced a ‘review’ of genetic engineering a month ago, but the terms of reference are so tight it doesn’t even consider the benefits to the agriculture industry and climate and won’t even consider making it any easier to implement initiatives such as the HME ryegrass.

“Our Trans-Tasman neighbours modernised their laws in October 2019. We risk being left behind if we don’t do the same.

“ACT would liberalise New Zealand’s laws on genetic engineering and allow New Zealand’s agricultural industry to be a leader, not a laggard, in the field.”

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Mark Cameron