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This article is part of the Research Topic

Plant Genome Editing – Policies and Governance

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. | doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00070

Indigenous Perspectives on Gene Editing in Aotearoa New Zealand

 Maui Hudson1*,  Aroha T. Mead1,  David Chagne2, Nick Roskruge3, Sandy Morrison1, Phillip L. Wilcox4 and  Andrew Allan2, 5
  • 1University of Waikato, New Zealand
  • 2The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd, New Zealand
  • 3School of Agriculture and Environment, College of Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand
  • 4Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Division of Sciences, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • 5School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Gene editing is arguably the most significant recent addition to the modern biotechnology toolbox, bringing both profoundly challenging and enabling opportunities. The specificity of these new tools and the relative simplicity of use, from a technical point of view, have broadened the potential applications and re-ignited the ethical debates generated by earlier forms of genetic modification.
In New Zealand gene editing is currently considered genetic modification and is subject to approval processes under the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), which requires the consideration of Māori perspectives. This article outlines previously articulated Māori perspectives on genetic modification, considers the continuing influence of those cultural and ethical arguments within the new context of gene editing, and explores with key Maori informants how cultural values might be used to analyse the risks and benefits of gene editing in the Aotearoa New Zealand context.
Methods used to obtain these perspectives consisted of (a) review of relevant literature regarding lessons learned from the responses of Maori to genetic modification, (b) interviews of selected ‘key Maori informants’ and (c) surveys of self-selected individuals from groups with interests in either genetic or environmental management.
The results of this pilot study identified that while Māori informants were not categorically opposed to new and emerging gene editing technologies a priori, they suggest a dynamic approach to regulation is required where specific uses or types of uses are approved on a case by case basis. This study demonstrates how the cultural cues that Māori referenced in the genetic modification debate, and subsequent conversations about biotechnologies, continue to be relevant in the context of gene editing.

Keywords: Indigenous, New Zealand, gene editing, Values & beliefs, policy

Received: 29 Aug 2018; Accepted: 12 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Jürgen Robienski, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany

Reviewed by:

Fernanda R. Leal, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Portugal
Olivia M. Arantes, Retired  

Copyright: © 2019 Hudson, Mead, Chagne, Roskruge, Morrison, Wilcox and Allan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Maui Hudson, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, maui.hudson@waikato.ac.nz