Cautious GM approach will continue
Calls to maintain the moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms beyond next October overlook the
safeguards in place, the cautious approach being taken by the government, and the need to preserve opportunities in the
age of biotechnology, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.
The Royal Commission conducted the most extensive investigation into genetic modification of any country and the
government is now consulting the public on implementing commission recommendations.
"We acted on the commission's recommendation to proceed with caution," Marian Hobbs said. "We introduced a two year
moratorium to allow research into social, economic and environmental issues surrounding GM, so we could set up the
Bioethics Council and fully investigate other Royal Commission recommendations on issues like liability for accidents
and changes to legislation.
"We want to ensure that all necessary policy is in place before the restricted period on the release of genetically
modified organisms is lifted in October 2003
"The expiry of the moratorium will not open the flood gates to commercial production of GE crops.
"It will simply allow applications for the release of genetically modified material to be considered case by case by the
Environmental Risk Management Authority, the expert group established to protect the New Zealand environment from
"The authority is there to protect the health and safety of New Zealanders and before approving any application ERMA
must decide that the benefits outweigh the risks. If there were not enough information to make a decision, the
application would have to be declined.
" Food would also require approval by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority and this would not be granted until the
food has been tested and found safe.
"The government has taken a safe, smart and sensible approach to GM. We recognise the need to preserve opportunities in
the age of biotechnology."