Biotech Updates

UC Professor Emerita Emphasizes on Gene Editing to Achieve Sustainability Needs

May 22, 2019

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.

Read more from University of Canterbury news.