Could editing gene technology be the key to NZ becoming predator free by 2050?

A new study reveals not enough is being done to meet New Zealand’s predator free 2050 goal.

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Research reveals current approaches are not doing enough to help New Zealand become predator free by 2050. Source: Breakfast

Predator Free 2050 Strategy Manager Dan Tompkins told TVNZ1's Breakfast reaching the predator free goal in 30 years could be highly unlikely.

Mr Tompkins says relying on the current systems is not enough.

“Predator Free 2050 was set up to give us three decades in which to get the new tools and technology that we need.

“We reckon we can deal with possums with current approaches with some improvements, even possibly stoats.

“But with things like rats there’s going to be new tools required.”

One of these new tools to eradicate predators being suggested by conservationists is the use of gene editing.

Around five years ago a big advance in genetic editing was made, with technology to help speed infertility throughout pest population.

The technology comes with potential risks as well as potential benefits, says Mr Tompkins.

The biggest risk being that it doesn’t work, he says.

However, evidence has shown there is low risk involved with gene editing technology.