Forgive the indulgence, I read a rather infuriating story in the newspaper and I felt like a rant.
A recent story in the Dominion Post (Commercial benefits lacking in GE trials) reveals the genetic engineering trials being carried out by Crown Research institutions have lead to very few commercial gains. Plant and Food and AgResearch have paid over half a million dollars in application fees to ERMA and only one of the trials has resulted in royalty generating IP. To those familiar with New Zealand’s restrictive requirements for GE research, this outcome is hardly a surprise.
Despite decades of safe use around the world, GE and GMOs remain contentious issues in New Zealand. The regulatory environment alone makes it difficult to carry out even basic research, let alone the commercial research which scientists are now being criticised for not producing. Anti-GE spokeswoman Claire Bleakley decries that the benefit of GE research being completed in New Zealand is lost to the overseas companies. But if private companies are the only ones paying for the research to be carried out then it makes sense they are the ones who reap the economic benefit. Basic funding for GE research is simply not available in New Zealand, the funding bodies know there is little chance any innovation made will be allowed to be used.
If New Zealand wants its scientific organisations to produce applied science using GE technology then it must:
1) relax the regulatory environment so that research time and money is not being consumed navigating expensive legislation
2) fund GE projects so the IP is not captured by overseas companies
3) open the New Zealand market to GMOs so that the benefits of this technology can be accrued here
There is very little risk and huge benefits to allowing GE research to be conducted more freely. The longer New Zealand clings to the anti-GE label, the more we miss out on the exciting commercial opportunities. Rather than be GE-free, let’s free GE!
Cross-posted from IndoctrinatingFreethought.blogspot.com