The EPA opens consultation on wording of ‘organisms not genetically modified’ regulations

New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is calling for submissions on proposed amendments to clarify the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Organisms Not Genetically Modified) Regulations 1998. The regulations describe organisms that technically meet the Act’s definition of a genetically modified organism (GMO) but do not require regulation as GMOs. Why the EPA is carrying out this consultation In 2014, a High Court decision highlighted issues with the wording and workability of the regulations. As a result, the Ministry for the Environment has looked at the regulations. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act provides for the EPA to consult on changes to the regulations when directed to by the Minister. The consultation document was developed by the EPA and was approved by Cabinet on 27 October 2015. The consultation document is available on the EPA website (under “consultations”), along with a glossary that explains the technical terms used. The EPA must seek input from anyone who might be affected by the proposed amendments, and then inform the Minister of the content of submissions received. New Zealand has a robust decision-making process for the regulation of genetically modified organisms and the proposals in this consultation will not affect that process. The proposed change to the regulations In brief, the consultation document proposes a clarification to show that organisms and plants bred using chemical and radiation treatments which were in use on or before 29 July 1998 will not be considered genetically modified under the law. The consultation document gives details about what is being considered along with the background to the consultation. Once the consultation period closes on Friday 11 December 2015, the EPA will analyse the submissions and provide a summary to the Minister for the Environment. The submissions and a summary of submissions will be made available online on the EPA website. The EPA will provide the Minister for the Environment with a summary of submissions, advice on the best international practices and standards, and advice on the proposed amendments to the regulations. The Minister will consider the submissions and the advice provided by the EPA, then depending on his decision, he may seek approval from Cabinet for amendments to the regulations. Further information on the new consultation is available at: Consultation Document.

NZ EPA, 30 October 2015 ; ;