New Zealand: Gene Drives

HIGHLY REGULATED
Regulated as genetic modification, but being considered to control invasive species.

New Zealand has taken a strict stance on gene edited organisms, including gene drives, by deciding to regulate all gene editing techniques as genetic modification, even though no genes are inserted from other (e.g. foreign) species. Although gene editing is highly regulated, there is significant interest in gene drive technology to control invasive species and New Zealand could be one of the first countries in the world to implement a gene drive, possibly by as early as 2025.

Products

  • Daughterless mice: Researchers from Australia and the US, in conjunction with the non-profit organization Island Conservation, are developing mice with a gene drive that only allows them to have male offspring, which could drive down the mice population in New Zealand quickly.
  • Rat genome sequencing: As part of Predator Free 2050 (a program to protect native species and eliminate invasive predators), researchers have outlined a research strategy that includes exploratory steps to prepare for possible gene drives, including sequencing the genomes of local rats, talking to international experts, and running mathematical simulations.

Regulatory Timeline

2016

A clarification to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 was approved, stating that all gene editing techniques would be considered genetic modification and regulated as such.

 2016

The Predator Free 2050 program was initiated to protect native species, with the goal to eliminate all rats, stoats, and possums by 2050.

 2001

The New Zealand government established the Royal Commision on Genetic Modification and published the Report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, which concluded that genetic modification, rather than posing a threat to biodiversity, could possibly provide some solutions to difficult problems associated with the management of natural resources and the environment.

1996

The Environmental Protection Authority released the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996, establishing regulations for the creation and release of non-native (including genetically modified) organisms into New Zealand.

NGO Reaction

Gene drives face intense opposition because of their ability to spread across borders and the possibility of unforeseen consequences to the environment. During the 2016 World Conservation Congress, NGOs, government representatives and scientific and academic institutions voted to adopt a moratorium on supporting or endorsing research into gene drives. In addition, a group of conservationists, including Dr. Jane Goodall, signed an open letter calling for a halt to gene drive proposals.

Additional Resources

Click on countries (eg. Brazil, US) or regions (eg. European Union) to find what agricultural products or therapies are approved or in development and their regulatory status.

Hotspots Background

EUROPEAN UNION

 

Agricultural Gene Editing
- Crops / Food
- Animals

 

Human Gene Editing
- Therapeutic / Stem Cell
- Germline / Embryonic

 

Gene Drives

 

BRAZIL

 

Agricultural Gene Editing
- Crops / Food
- Animals

 

Human Gene Editing
- Therapeutic / Stem Cell
- Germline / Embryonic

 

Gene Drives

 

NEW ZEALAND

 

Agricultural Gene Editing
- Crops / Food
- Animals

 

Human Gene Editing
- Therapeutic / Stem Cell
- Germline / Embryonic

 

Gene Drives

 

UNITED STATES

 

Agricultural Gene Editing
- Crops / Food
- Animals

 

Human Gene Editing
- Therapeutic / Stem Cell
- Germline / Embryonic

 
 

Gene Drives

 

AUSTRALIA

 

Agricultural Gene Editing
- Crops / Food
- Animals

 

Human Gene Editing
- Therapeutic / Stem Cell
- Germline / Embryonic

 

Gene Drives

 

CANADA

 

Agricultural Gene Editing
- Crops / Food
- Animals

 

Human Gene Editing
- Therapeutic / Stem Cell
- Germline / Embryonic

 
 

Gene Drives