Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act out of date and out of time
Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to urgently set up an expert panel to review the regulation of genetic
modification (GM) in the wake of a report by the National Academy of Sciences which confirms the safety of GM crops.
GM crops have been used in agriculture since 1996 and the study carried out by US-based National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering, and Medicine examined the literature, listened to speakers and heard comments from the public to determine
the negative effects and benefits of commercial GM crops.
Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the report found there was no substantiated evidence of a
difference in risk to human health between current commercial GE crops and conventional crops.
"There was no conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from GE crops. In fact, the report
concludes that GM crops may even be better for the environment," he says.
Looking to the future of GM crops, the report notes that new genetic technologies are blurring the line between
conventional and GM crops, and that regulatory systems need to assess crop varieties based on their individual
characteristics, not the way they are produced.
"This is the very message Federated Farmers and other science and industry organisations gave to the New Zealand
government in October 2014, calling for a change in legislation from outdated technology based to risk based assessment
to enable effective management and regulation of all GM technologies.
"Since then the rules around genetic modification have become even more distorted and anachronistic by classifying all
techniques developed since 1998 as GM. Imagine if we applied similar logic to cell- phones or motor cars."
Dr Rolleston says that any review should develop the principles which would underpin new legislation taking into account
credible scientific evidence of risks and benefits, coexistence and a fair balance or rights between those wanting to
use GM products and those wanting to avoid them.
"New Zealand farmers deserve to have the choice to use safe and effective technologies if they are to continue to be
world leaders in agriculture," Dr Rolleston says.