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Government to ratify Cartagena Biosafety Protocol

16 September 2004

Government to ratify Cartagena Biosafety Protocol

The government will ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Environment and Associate Foreign Minister Marian Hobbs announced today. Public consultation on ratification attracted more than 1200 responses, mostly in favour.

"We are ratifying the protocol because New Zealand is a good international citizen and we are committed to comprehensive biosecurity," Marian Hobbs said.

New Zealand will join more than 100 countries that have ratified the protocol. The Cartagena Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity regulates international trade of certain types of genetically modified organisms known as living modified organisms (LMOs).

"We support people being informed about what's imported and exported. It can be seen as an extension of border biosecurity," Marian Hobbs said. "By working with countries that have ratified we are protecting our future trade.

"Ratification allows us to ensure the best interests of New Zealand and other agricultural exporters are taken into account in the development of the protocol. It means we have an inside track in helping determine international practice for governing trade in these products and will have an active voice in the future development of the protocol.

"We already have law covering the importation of organisms that come within the protocol so there'll be no change in the case-by-case way we deal with GMOs imported or used in New Zealand. Regulations will be put into place to ensure that New Zealand exporters of LMOs meet identification, reporting and other requirements of the protocol."

New Zealand signed the protocol in May 2000 and will ratify next year, following completion of Parliamentary processes.

The Cartagena Protocol came into force on 11 September 2003. The first formal meeting of the parties was in February, which New Zealand attended as an observer. New Zealand aims to attend the next meeting in June 2005 as a party to the protocol.

The consultation took place over six weeks in June and July. A document summarising the responses can be found at: www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/env/biosafety/submissionsindex.html

ENDS

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