What is genetic modification?
Genetic modification is a technology for altering the DNA of living organisms. For thousands of years people have selectively bred plants and animals with the characteristics they desire. Genetic modification allows scientists to changes genes in a more controlled way. Genes can be switched on or off, new characteristics can be introduced more quickly, and genes can be moved between unrelated species. This makes it possible to introduce characteristics that would not be possible through conventional breeding.
The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 defines “genetically modified organism” to mean any organism in which any of the genes or other genetic material (a) have been modified by in vitro techniques; or (b) are inherited or otherwise derived, through any number of replications, from any genes or other genetic material which has been modified by in vitro techniques.
It does not include organisms resulting from selection or natural regeneration, hand pollination, or other managed, controlled pollination.
How is genetic modification managed in New Zealand?
The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (“HSNO Act”) controls new organisms, which includes genetically modified organisms.
The EPA administers many of the functions set out in the HSNO Act. Approval must be obtained from the EPA before any new organism can be imported into New Zealand, grown or developed in containment, field tested, or released into the environment.
Section 2 Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. Unless expressly provided otherwise by regulations.
Clause 3(1), Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Organisms Not Genetically Modified) Regulations 1998
Section 2A Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. Note: “new organism” is also defined to include an organism belonging to a species that was not present in New Zealand immediately before 29 July 1998. Therefore this regime also controls the introduction of new species to New Zealand.
Last updated at 12:22PM on February 25, 2015