Māori perspectives on gene editing technologies

14 June 2019

Plant & Food Research scientists Professor Andrew Allan and Dr David Chagné were part of a team led by Maui Hudson (University of Waikato) to study Māori perspectives on the use of gene editing in New Zealand.

Gene editing has recently become a subject of public interest, thanks to its potential use in a range of applications, including improving primary production systems. There are key aspects to this technology that differentiate it from previous generations of biotechnological tools, such as transgenics.  

The research from Hudson and colleagues from Plant & Food Research looked into public perceptions of this new technology, with a specific Māori focus. The research reviewed literature about Māori views with biotechnology, refreshing this in light of the new gene editing technology. 

Interviews and a survey were also conducted as part of the research and included fundamental questions such as: “Do you think Whakapapa is affected if you Introduce DNA into one species from another species?” and, “Is this the same case if you edit DNA within the same species?”

The outcomes of this pilot study identified that while Māori informants were not categorically opposed to new and emerging gene editing technologies, they suggest a dynamic approach to regulation is required where specific uses, or types of use, are approved on a case-by-case basis.

This research was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Endeavour programme “Turbo-breeding”, led by Professor Allan. 


Journal Reference:

Maui Hudson, Aroha Mead, David Chagné, Nick Roskruge, Sandy Morrison, Phillip L. Wilcox, and Andrew C. Allan. Indigenous Perspectives and Gene Editing in Aotearoa New Zealand, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, April 2019: DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00070 

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