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Moratorium On Genetic Modification

The Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs, has announced that agreement has been reached with industry and research organisations over a voluntary moratorium on field tests or general release of genetically modified organisms.

“The voluntary moratorium applies to all applications to field test or release a genetically modified organism from containment,” the Minister said.

“The major potential applicants have agreed that a voluntary moratorium with some limited exemptions will allow their research to progress while reducing potential risks to the environment.”

The voluntary moratorium will be in place until the Royal Commission into Genetic Modification has completed its report and the Government has considered its findings.

The Minister said that the normal process was for the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to consider applications under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

“Major potential applicants have agreed that they will comply with the voluntary moratorium and not submit applications, unless they have a specific exemption,” Marian Hobbs said. “Exemptions will apply only in certain circumstances and strict controls will be applied to any field tests.”

The voluntary moratorium will be administered by the Ministry for the Environment and full details will be published in the Gazette shortly.

The Minister said that the Government would still be prepared to consider imposing a legally binding moratorium if an application was made to the ERMA that did not meet the exemption criteria.

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