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Hazardous Substances And New Organisms Amendment

28 March 2002

Finance and Expenditure Committee

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Genetically Modified Organisms) Amendment Bill

Today the Finance and Expenditure Committee reported to the House on the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Genetically Modified Organisms) Amendment Bill, including the amendments proposed in Supplementary Order Paper No. 231. All committee recommendations were majority decisions.

In its consideration of the bill, the committee paid particular attention to the controls that should be required on clean up following a field test involving a genetically modified organism. The committee recommends amending the bill to require the clean up of any material from genetically modified organisms that can reproduce a new generation of the organism without human intervention. The committee also recommends the bill require the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) to consider whether the presence of DNA or RNA in the soil could pose particular risk, and to impose controls requiring the clean up of DNA or RNA if necessary.

Supplementary Order Paper No. 231, which the committee recommends be incorporated into the bill, temporarily restricts xenotransplantation or germ-cell genetic procedures, and provides for the Minister of Health to authorise exemptions from these provisions for a particular procedure or class of procedure. The committee has recommended amendments to the SOP to clarify the obligation for the Minister to involve public consultation when considering whether to grant an exemption under this SOP.

The majority of the committee has decided not to exempt the current application by Diatranz Ltd from the provisions of the SOP. Diatranz is currently appealing a decision by the Director-General of Health to decline an application to conduct a clinical trial of a process involving the insertion of living pig cells into patients with type I diabetes. The new provisions would not force Diatranz to begin its application again, but would require Diatranz to undergo a stage involving public consultation should its appeal succeed.

Copies of the bill, as amended and with a full commentary by the committee, can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops. The bill will also shortly be available on the internet for viewing, at http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/publications/index.html.

Ends

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