RSNZ -consultation - Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act

To all Constituent Organisations of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Please find below details of a consultation response under development at
the Royal Society of New Zealand, for your information and to which you
and your organisation are invited to contribute if you wish.

The Royal Society of New Zealand would like your views on the operation of
the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act
( ) in terms of its impact on
research involving new organisms (including, but not limited to, GMOs).

New Zealand’s Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act was introduced in
1996 to assess and decide on applications to introduce hazardous
substances or new organisms into New Zealand. This includes genetic
modification of plants, animals and other living things in New Zealand.
Over the following years there have been a number of Government
consultations and a Royal Commission, which have amended the legislation,
and to which the Royal Society contributed to in 2002
act/ ).

During these reviews the research community expressed concern over the
impact of the legislation on contained laboratory research which was
sought to be addressed in the New Organisms and Other Matters Bill in
2003. This simplified the assessment process for low-risk genetic
modifications to improve efficiency and reduce compliance costs. Whether
or not an organism was considered low-risk depended on the type of
organism, the sorts of modifications being made to it, and the level of
containment. Under the amended law, research institutions conducting
low-risk GM research in the confines of the laboratory were able to make
applications for approval on a project basis as opposed to making a
separate application for each organism produced during a particular piece
of research. Other changes allow the Environmental Risk Management
Authority (ERMA) to delegate decisions on the importation of low-risk
genetically modified organisms to Institutional Biological Safety
Committees (IBSCs).

In 2005 the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Risk Species (strains
of Microctonus aethiopoides) regulations came into effect, which
identified all strains of the parasitic wasp Microctonus aethiopoides,
other than the Moroccan strain, as a risk species and were now new
organisms for the purposes of the Act. Then in 2008 there was a subsequent
Government consultation and legislation amendment around information
regulations for GM conditional release applications. In 2009, the
Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Organisms Prescribed as Not New
Organisms) Regulations recognised the pest fungal organism Puccinia
myrsiphylli as no longer new for the purposes of the HSNO Act 1996, and
therefore not requiring an approval from the Environmental Protection
Authority (EPA) for importing, developing, field testing or releasing that
organism. In 2011 six further pest species were added to this list as no
longer new: Bactericera cockerelli, Candidatus Liberibacter
solanacearum, Orchamoplatus citri, Varroa destructor, Nasonovia
ribisnigri, Frankliniella intonsa.

Consultation focus
The Society would welcome views on members’ and Fellows’ experiences with
the Act in their research, in terms of the cost of compliance and any
impact on innovation for both laboratory-contained and field research, and
their experience of the balance of risk versus the level of regulation
involved compared with international best practice. Submissions to the
consultation should be sent to Dr Marc Rands

) by
2 December 2011.

Kind regards,
Tracy Farr
Membership Support Officer

The Royal Society of New Zealand
DDI: +64 4 470 5759
4 Halswell Street, Thorndon, PO Box 598, Wellington 6140, New Zealand


Recent News: