Thursday, July 18, 2024

Environment ministry seeks feedback on GMO regulation changes

The Ministry for the Environment is seeking feedback on changes to regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that will foster research and improve health outcomes.

Consultation on proposed changes to the legislation and regulations for GMOs used in laboratory settings and for biomedical therapies will open on 3 July and close on 25 August 2023.

The changes respond to concerns from the research community that current GMO regulations are hindering research and innovation. The proposals will not alter rules on the release of GMOs outside laboratory settings.

“From cancer therapies to expanding our knowledge of biology, the use of genetic technologies has advanced rapidly over the past three decades,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

“New Zealand regulations have not kept pace with better understanding of the benefits of GMOs. We want to ensure GMO regulations contribute to better outcomes for New Zealanders through more research, innovation and development, and improved access to biomedical therapies and medicines.”

Minister Parker said the proposed improvements would remove barriers to research and help foster biotech companies producing high-value products in New Zealand, while retaining a considered approach to GMOs.

“We recognise some New Zealanders have strong views on GMOs, and we want to take measured steps to update the regulatory settings. That’s why these changes apply only to laboratory settings and for biomedical therapies that use biology and organisms, like cells, to create products that improve human health.”

“We’re not changing the rules that relate to field trials and releases of GMOs into the environment, such as plants or animals.”

He said the proposed approach follows international best practice.

“These changes will simplify the current system while ensuring appropriate checks and balances remain in place. In particular, the current comprehensive approval processes undertaken by Medsafe for medicines and biomedical therapies will remain unchanged.”

Further information will be available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website when the consultation opens on 3 July.

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