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New GM regulations give greater assurances

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment

9 October 2008 Media Statement

Embargoed until 10am
New GM regulations give greater assurances

New regulations for the conditional release of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) will provide greater assurance for industry and the public in regard to traceability and segregation, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

"The regulations, gazetted today and effective from 7 November 2008 (28 days after gazettal), tighten up the regime around the ability to segregate and trace conditionally released GMOs," Trevor Mallard said.

"The changes are the result of the cooperation agreement with the Green Party. They mean that when the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) receives an application to conditionally release a GMO, the applicant will have to show how they plan to keep the GMOs separate from other organisms and how they propose to trace the GMO, if that is appropriate.

"The purpose of the changes is to provide a greater level of transparency, accountability and public openness in the management of GM crops should they be approved for use in New Zealand. The new regulation also provides greater certainty to applicants on the information that they would need to provide to ERMA before a conditional release application would be considered.

"The decision on any conditions that must apply to any approval is still for ERMA to make. But the regulation changes makes it now clear that ERMA will consider segregation and traceability issues for all GMO conditional release applications.

"There is now greater transparency around the possible imposition of such conditions.
The new regulations clarify the rules and will help ERMA in its work of realising the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification – proceeding cautiously in enabling New Zealand to pursue the benefits of genetic modification technology," Trevor Mallard said.


Other background

Conditional release means that the release of an organism outside strict containment is approved with controls. Compliance with these is monitored by the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry. ERMA has not yet approved any conditional release of a GMO.

To date some strictly controlled GM field tests have been approved eg brassicas, onions). ERMA is currently considering the first ever application for a GM conditional release – for a GM vaccine to combat horse flu. This was going to a public hearing on 7 October. The horse flu vaccine will also need approval from the NZ Food Safety Authority’s Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Group.


ENDS

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