Soil and Health Assn fears new gene technologies are slipping under the GE radar

argylesock says… Zinc finger nucleases (ZFN) are proteins which can be used in genetic modification (GM, genetic engineering, GE). Bob Edlin at the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science (NZIAHS) tells us in this post how ZFN technology is being discussed there. Meanwhile, over here the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that ZFN biotech is indeed a kind of GM. But it might be a relatively safe kind, because it places the transgene quite precisely. Here’s a review of the science.


The Soil and Health Association says a new gene-splitting technique must be defined as genetic engineering. If not, it contends, more new techniques like it may be used in crops, food and other products without public knowledge and with unknown consequences.

The association is referring to zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), a class of engineered DNA-binding proteins that facilitate targeted editing of the genome by creating double-strand breaks in DNA at user-specified locations.

“There is a raft of new technologies being developed that are the next wave of genetic engineering,” says Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health – Organic NZ.

“These new technologies must be thoroughly and independently scrutinised and the precautionary principle applied. Otherwise, it’s an uncontrolled experiment that could have adverse effects for people, animals and the environment.”

The Soil & Health Association commends the Sustainability Council for challenging a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority that zinc…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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