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Consultation on wording of ‘organisms not genetically modified’ regulations in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act

This consultation closed in December 2015.

Update: proposed amendments have now been considered by Cabinet and the Minister for the Environment has announced the Government's decision.

What is proposed

The Environmental Protection Authority is calling for submissions on proposals to clarify the wording of the regulations that set out the legal definition of ‘not genetically modified’ under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Organisms Not Genetically Modified) Regulations 1998.

These regulations are nearly 20 years old, and a High Court decision in 2014 highlighted the need for them to be reviewed.

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 Tuesday 27 October. The consultation document is available on the EPA website (under “consultations”), along with a glossary that explains the technical terms used.

The proposed amendments clarify that organisms and plants bred using conventional chemical and radiation treatments, which were in use in New Zealand on or before 29 July 1998 and are common overseas, are not considered genetically modified under the law. It does not affect the current decision-making process for GMOs.


The consultation document gives details about what is being considered, and the background to the consultation.

How to make a submission

Submissions have now CLOSED


The submissions and a summary of submissions will be made available on the EPA website.

The EPA will provide the Minister for the Environment a summary of submissions, a review of how this matter is treated by other countries, and advice on the proposed change to the regulations.

The Minister will consider the submissions and the advice provided by the EPA then, depending on his decision, may seek approval from Cabinet for amendments to the regulations.