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Looking deeper into discussions

We have recently completed the first round of public discussions about the potential use of genetic technologies for the environment. We had lots of really interesting and valuable conversations about what people want New Zealand’s environment to be like, how to get there, and the excitement and/or concerns they have about genetic technologies.

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in those discussions!!!

We have been thinking about the conversations we had and the themes that came out as we design the next phase of our public discussions. In the next phase, our conversations will be more focused on specific potential applications of genetic technologies – perhaps for wilding pines, rats, varroa mite and myrtle rust.

Image of varroa infested beehive, from New Zealand National Geographic. Photo credit: HortResearch, Kennedy Warne, Andrew Caldwell and Michael Schneider.

When we look at the transcripts of our discussions so far, we can see lots of important threads to unravel. People are talking about their visions for our future and of our past, the role of conversation and community in decision making, who they trust and who they don't trust, as well talking about genetics and environmental problems. One thing that has been really fascinating to me is to think about the different ways people connect visions of the natural and social environment, and the ethical decisions we are faced with. Here is an example:

Participant 1 “if you think that ecology is complex, people are complex. So you've got, as soon as you get into a room of people, from South America, people from an iwi background, you start to consider the complexity of people and how we believe are we playing God. Or are we just using the tools that we've developed. We have a right to use them.


Are we playing god?

Participant 1

Yeah, of course we are. We're tinkering. We're tinkering in an ecosystem that we've completely destabilized. And we think we can do better.”

Are we playing God? Or tinkering to fix a mess we’ve made? Do we have an inherent right to use whatever tools we've developed? Can we do better?

We’d love to hear your views – please comment below.

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