Outgoing Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman says there's no significant ecological or health concerns related to genetically modified organisms.
Sir Peter spoke to Q+A's Corin Dann about genetically modified organisms, which continues to be heavily debated.
"It is safe, there are no significant ecological or health concerns associated with the use of advanced genetic technologies," Sir Peter said.
"That does not mean that society automatically will accept them. And what we need is a conversation which we've not had in a long time that, I think, needs to be more constructive and less polarised than in the past."
Over the past nine years, Sir Peter says the public has become more engaged rather than mistrustful of science, partly due to the "public scientists" who have become more prominent in the media, particularly women.
"I think where science communication has moved to realise that it’s not just about pushing facts at people. It’s about explaining the processes of science, how we come to know what we need to know and what we can know," he said.
Back in 2003, thousands marched in protest over the adoption and commercial release of genetically modified organisms into the country.
"It's going to ruin our environment; it's going to ruin our health; it's going to ruin our economy - why do it?" one protester said.
Not everyone was on the same side, however, as counter-protesters entered the fray.
"GE as a technology is not evil. There's no proof that it's harmful, and a lot of the points these people are trying to make are not based on any real facts," a counter-protester said.
For more of the debate, click on the video below.