University of Canterbury's (UC) newest Professor Emerita Paula Jameson has
spoken about how important it is to consider gene editing as a tool to
improve crop production to meet the sustainability demands of New Zealand. A
UC alumna who holds double majors in plant physiology and chemistry and a
PhD on wheat and cytokinins, Prof. Jameson sees gene editing as one
technique that has a lot of potential to achieve the Aotearoa New Zealand's
targets towards zero carbon in its agronomic systems.
Citing genetic engineering, Prof. Jameson said that genetically engineered
products have been around for well over a decade. The technology is not
hardly new nor untested. While it is true that genetically engineered plants
are not planted in New Zealand, the public has been consuming genetically
engineered products like soybean and canola for years. This is when Prof.
Jameson appeals to consider looking into gene-edited plants. She stressed
how Aotearoa New Zealand legislation needs to accept gene editing as a
problem-solving tool that does not need the same level of regulatory
oversight that is required for plant genetic engineering, as in the case of
other countries like the US and Canada.
Prof. Jameson then proceeds to explain that with gene editing, scientists
can single out one gene and alter it very accurately. Instead of relying on
natural mutations through traditional breeding techniques, gene editing can
mimic these mutations in different cultivars. Moreover, using gene editing
takes less time for the final product to come out and with accurate
precision. She urges Aotearoa New Zealanders to become more aware of the
benefits of gene editing, because gene-edited plants have more potential to
increase yield and fight off environmental stress to help achieve New
Zealand's sustainability targets.