Containment and Field Test Approvals
Any person intending to develop or import or field test a new organism in containment (restricting the organism to a secure location or facility to prevent escape
) must obtain an approval from the EPA.
The application for containment or field testing must include:
- The identification of the organism, and
- All the possible adverse effects of the organism on the environment, and
- Information about the containment system for the organism, and
- Information on all occasions where the organism has been considered by an overseas government or organisation and the results of that consideration, and
- For the development of GMOs: the description of the project and the experimental procedures to be used, the details of the biological material to be used, and the expression of foreign nucleic acid material, or
- For field testing of GMOs: the purposes of the field testing, the genetic modifications of the organism to be tested, the nature and method of field trials and the experimental procedures to be used.
When making a decision on a containment or field test approval application the EPA must have regard to:
- The ability of the organism to escape from containment,
- The ability of the organisms to establish an undesirable self-sustaining population,
- The ease with which the organism could be eradicated if it established an undesirable self-sustaining population, and
- For applications to develop a GMO in containment not in a containment structure and to field test a GMO in containment:
- Any adverse effects of developing or field testing the organism on human health and safety and the environment,
- Any alternative method of achieving the research objective that has fewer adverse effects of human health and safety and the environment,
- Any effects resulting from the transfer of any genetic elements to other organisms in or around the site of the development or field test.
The EPA may approve the application if, after taking into account all the effects of the organism and any inseparable organism 2313 and all the matters set out above, the positive effects of having the organism in containment outweigh the adverse effects of the organism and the EPA is satisfied that the organism can be adequately contained. 2314
The approval must include controls providing for each of the matters set out in Schedule 3 and any other matters if required to achieve the purpose of the HSNO Act.
Approvals to develop a GMO in containment not in a containment structure and to field test a GMO in containment must include controls to ensure that the organism is removed or destroyed at the end of the development or field test.
Field trials often provide an opportunity to collect information on potential adverse effects, including biophysical, economic, social, cultural or ethical adverse effects. This information may assist consideration of later applications for conditional or full release, provide background information relevant to similar organisms, and provide verification (or not) of the assumptions made in giving an approval or the effectiveness of controls.
However, an application for field testing is not required to include a condition that adverse effects testing be carried out.
Field tests in New Zealand
Information about field tests and outdoor developments of genetically modified organisms that have occurred in New Zealand can be found on the EPA website.
Section 2 Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Section 40 Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. Note: A containment or field test approval may be granted where a conditional release or full release approval has been declined: Section 39 Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.
Section 40(2) Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Section 44 Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Section 44A Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
This includes the adverse effects (if any) of having the organism and any inseparable organism in containment, the probability that the organism may escape after considering all the controls to which the organism would be subject if the application were approved, and the effects of the organism if it were to escape: section 45(4).
Section 45(1)(a) Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Section 45(2) Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Section 45A Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Nolan, (ed) Environmental and Resource Management Law, Chapter 12: New Organisms, page 790.
GE Free NZ in Food and Environment Inc v Environmental Risk Management Authority (HC Wellington CIV-2007-485-1340, 12 May 2008
Last updated at 12:22PM on February 25, 2015