28 July 2012
The Environmental Protection Authority has approved two applications by a group of New Zealand universities, Crown Research Institutes and independent research organisations to use genetically modified (GM) Arabidopsis thaliana in containment.
Arabidopsis thaliana, also known at Thale cress, is used worldwide to study plant biology and genetics.
The applications were made on behalf of the University of Auckland, Massey University, the University of Otago, Lincoln University, Scion Research, AgResearch, ViaLactia Biosciences New Zealand, Plant & Food Research, and Canterbury University.
The purpose of the applications was to ensure that all GM Arabidopsis research in New Zealand is subject to controls allowing for consistent compliance and enforceability.
Having assessed the controls, and taking into account concerns around the possible escape of any GM material, the EPA’s Decision-Making Committee was satisfied the controls could securely contain GM Arabidopsis.
The Committee identified beneficial effects arising from the import and development in containment of GM Arabidopsis thaliana, including knowledge benefits to the research community; benefits to students and tertiary education institutes; and economic benefits as a flow on effect of research conducted with GM Arabidopsis thaliana.
The Committee was satisfied these benefits outweighed the adverse effects.
Note to editors: The EPA is responsible for regulating hazardous substances and new organisms under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. The EPA appoints specialist committees (Decision-Making Committees) to manage decisions under HSNO.