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ERMA Plans Hearing For GM Field Test Application

5 June 2008

ERMA New Zealand Plans Hearing For GM Onion, Spring Onion, Garlic And Leek Field Test Application

The Environmental Risk Management Authority expects to hold a public hearing in Christchurch in August or September to hear oral submissions on the New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research's application to field test a range of genetically-modified vegetable species.

Crop and Food Research has applied to plant genetically-modified (GM) onions, spring onions, garlic and leeks over a total of 2.5 hectares for a 10-year research project.

ERMA New Zealand's General Manager, New Organisms, Libby Harrison, says 123 submissions have been received on the application. "We have received a wide range of submissions from community groups, iwi, scientists, and members of the public who are interested in genetic modification research."

Dr Harrison says the number of submissions is a lot less than the 1933 received for Crop and Food's previous genetically-modified onions application in 2003. "The number of submissions is fewer than we have historically received for GM field test applications. However, it's not about how many submissions the Authority gets to consider, but rather the quality of public input. The submissions we have received represent a full range of views on GM and will greatly assist the Authority as it makes it decision."

Crop and Food Research wants to plant onion seed directly in the ground and allow some onion plants to flower in the field in order to produce seed. These plants would be caged to prevent the spread of pollen.

The next step is for ERMA New Zealand staff to assemble an evaluation and review (E&R) report on the application. This report, which will summarise the relevant science and the submissions, will be sent to submitters and put on the ERMA New Zealand website before the hearing.

The application details and answers to frequently-asked questions are available on the ERMA New Zealand website,


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