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Frequently asked questions

New Organisms

How do I find out about incidents involving new organisms?

What do I need to know if I want to import a product containing a live microorganism into New Zealand?

​You will need to work out if the microorganism is classed as a new organism.  Species of microorganisms that are new organisms need our approval to import or use in New Zealand.

Do you regulate GM food?

​We only regulate living (viable) new organisms. We don’t regulate imported food that contains devitalised ingredients derived from GMOs. 

For information about who does regulate such foods, go to:

You will need approval from us if the food is or contains a living GM organism (eg, a GM potato to be grown in New Zealand and then processed for food).

What are containment facilities? What are EPA/MPI (MAF/ERMA) containment standards

“Containment” means to hold a new organism in a secure location or facility. Containment facilities are designed and operated to prevent the release of the organism—or its heritable material— into the wider environment. A containment facility can be indoors (eg, laboratories, glasshouses, or laboratory animal facilities) or outdoors (eg, zoo enclosures or field test sites).  Containment facilities are approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to specific Containment Standards.  All containment facilities are audited by MPI on a regular basis.  Read more information about approved containment facilities or the MAF/ERMA containment standards.

Where can I find information about the 2000 Royal Commission on Genetic Modification?

​The Ministry for the Environment website carries background information about Royal Commission, the recommendations made and the response by the Government to those recommendations:

What do I do if I want to bring a live plant into New Zealand or my seeds have been detained at the border?

​You need to work out whether the plant or seeds are classed as new organisms.  Plants and seeds that are new organisms need our approval before you can import or use in New Zealand.

What kinds of approvals for new organisms are there? What is containment? What is release?

There are two basic types of new organism approvals: 
Approvals to produce or hold new organisms in approved containment facilities.
“Containment” means to hold a new organism in a secure location or facility. Containment facilities are designed and operated to prevent the release of the organism—or its heritable material— into the wider environment. A containment facility can be indoors (eg, laboratories, glasshouses, or laboratory animal facilities) or outdoors (eg, zoo enclosures or field test sites).  Containment facilities are approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) to specific Containment Standards.  All containment facilities are audited by MAFBNZ on a regular basis.  Read more information about approved containment facilities or the MAF/ERMA containment standards.
Approvals to release new organisms into the New Zealand environment
An approval for release means that the new organism does not need to be kept in an approved containment facility. Release approvals would be needed if you wanted to do the  activities such as growing a new plant in your home garden or commercially, using a new animal for farming or activities such as trekking or using a vaccine which carries a live new organism to vaccinate the general public or to use in a clinical trial.

What is a new organism in New Zealand?

A new organism includes microorganisms (such as fungi, bacteria and viruses), plants and animals that were not present in New Zealand on 29 July 1998. Other types of organisms classed as new organisms include genetically modified organisms, organisms that have been deliberately eradicated from New Zealand and those that became extinct in New Zealand before 29 July 1998.

We only deal with living (viable) new organisms.

How do I find out if I need to make an application for a new organism?

​We have web pages to help you to work out if you need to make an application or to check you can directly contact us.  You will need an approval if you want to import, produce, field test or release a live new organism in New Zealand. 

How do I make an enquiry about a new organism?

​To ask us a question, you can either email us or phone us.

email: noinfo@epa.govt.nz

phone: (04) 474 5591

I need to make an application for a new organism, so what should I do next?

​If you don't know what application form you need, we have a simple tool to help you work out which is the correct one to use. 

Information on the costs and time to process the application, copies of the application form and examples of previous applications can also be found on this website. Before you fill out the application form, please contact us so we can assign you an Advisor, who will help you provide sufficient information in your application to enable us to process it. Or you can contact us directly to find out the correct application form to use. 

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