Federated Farmers says today's release of a discussion paper on gene editing highlights the need to look at the possibilities of the technology.

The industry group said it was supportive of the discussion paper from the Royal Society Te Āparangi which aims to continue the national conversation about the use of gene editing in primary industries.

The paper says it believes now is a good time for New Zealanders to consider what gene editing could offer our primary industries.

Read more: Could gene editing boost NZ primary industries?


"Even though the paper talks a lot about enhancing different types of production, we think there is also plenty of scope for discussion about other potential benefits from gene editing," Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said.

"And these benefits aren't to on-farm uses. These are benefits for the entire community."

"We are particularly excited about the possibilities around using gene editing to control pests, especially wilding pines, possums and stoats."

"These pests have been costing us millions and millions for years."

"To be predator free by 2050, we are going to have to come up with some pretty clever science to wipe out all of those furry pests who dine on some of the tastiest, unique and endangered species the world has," Milne said.

Could gene editing help get rid of pests like stoats? Photo / File
Could gene editing help get rid of pests like stoats? Photo / File

The Royal Society Te Apārangi said the paper was part of its larger Gene Editing in Aotearoa project.

A multidisciplinary expert panel and reference group has been brought together to explore the wider social, cultural, legal and economic implications of gene editing in New Zealand, incorporating Māori perspectives and broader cultural contexts, the society said.

Last month the former Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Sir Peter Gluckman, said New Zealand would fall behind other countries if we didn't get access to promising inovations that use GM.

"If we look at the choices we have with our environment and economy, we are increasingly straining the options we have ahead."

"If we're serious about climate change, if we're serious about environmental protection, if we're serious about a reduction in predators and protecting biodiversity, we perhaps need to think again about whether the technologies which are increasingly being used offshore have got a role to play in New Zealand."