Determining whether your organism is new

Genetically modified organisms and organisms that were not present in New Zealand before 29 July 1998 are considered new. We can help you determine if your organism is new.

Genetically modified organisms in New Zealand Plus

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genes or other genetic material have been modified by in vitro techniques. 

In New Zealand, there are regulations stating which organisms are not regarded as GMOs.

Non genetically modified organisms in New Zealand Plus

​You do not need approval from us to develop the following organisms (unless the organism is new to New Zealand):

  • Organisms that result solely from selection or natural regeneration, hand pollination, or other managed, controlled pollination.
  • Organisms that are regenerated from organs, tissues, or cell culture, including those produced through selection and propagation of somaclonal variants, embryo rescue, and cell fusion (including protoplast fusion or chemical or radiation treatments that cause changes in chromosome number or cause chromosome rearrangements).
  • Organisms that result solely from artificial insemination, superovulation, embryo transfer, or embryo splitting.
  • Organisms modified solely by the movement of nucleic acids using physiological processes, including conjugation, transduction, and transformation; and plasmid loss or spontaneous deletion.
  • Organisms resulting from spontaneous deletions, rearrangements, and amplifications within a single genome, including its extrachromosomal elements. 

However, if nucleic acid molecules produced using in vitro manipulation are transferred using physiological processes such as conjugation, transduction or transformation, the resulting organism is a genetically modified organism.

New plants in New Zealand Plus

​You need approval to import and grow new plant species in New Zealand.

If you want to import and grow new species of plants (for example, to grow in your home garden or commercially) you need approval from us and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). We look at whether the plant species itself may cause harm to New Zealand, while MPI assesses the biosecurity risks from the pests and diseases the imported plants may carry.

Please contact us by phone 04 474 5591, or email neworganisms@epa.govt.nz to discuss your options if you want to import new plants.

New animals in New Zealand Plus

You need approval to import new animal species into the New Zealand environment.

If you want to import new animal species you need approval from us and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). We look at whether the animal species itself may cause harm to New Zealand, while MPI assess the biosecurity risks from the pests and diseases the imported animals may carry.

Please contact us by phone on (04) 474 5591 or email neworganisms@epa.govt.nz to discuss your options if you want to import new animals.

New microorganisms in New Zealand Plus

You need approval to import new microbial species to use in the New Zealand environment.

If you want to import a new species of microorganism you need approval from us and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). We look at whether the microorganism itself may cause harm to New Zealand, while MPI assesses the biosecurity risks.

Please note that there are some organisms that are not allowed in New Zealand at all.

See what organisms are prohibited in New Zealand

Please contact us by phone (04) 474 5591 or email neworganisms@epa.govt.nz to discuss your options if you want to import new microorganisms.

To talk to MPI about importing new microorganisms, contact the Animal Imports team at animalimports@mpi.govt.nz

Importing products carrying live new microorganisms Plus

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

For an organism not to be classed as a new organism (and therefore would not require approval from us), you will need to find evidence that the microorganism has been isolated or used in the New Zealand environment prior to 29 July 1998. 

The best database for micro-organisms is the Landcare fungi (and bacteria) database. This database also records organisms in other countries so you will need to make sure that the organism is listed as present in New Zealand.

Go to Landcare fungi (and bacteria) database

Check our list of microbes we have determined to be present (pdf 360KB)

Other evidence to prove that the microorganism is present in New Zealand can be from:

  • scientific papers describing that the microorganism has been isolated in New Zealand 

  • signed statements from person(s) who have imported or used products that contained this microorganism in New Zealand, or

  • pre-1998 import permits for products containing this microorganism.

If there is no evidence that this microorganism is present in New Zealand, you will need to make an application (a release application) so that we can do a risk assessment before your microorganism can be introduced into the New Zealand environment. Please note that release applications do require a substantial amount of information about the microorganism. You will need to provide information on the potential effects of the microorganism on the environment, human health, society, Māori culture and traditions and the market economy. Please contact us to talk about whether this option is right for you.

Hazardous substance products

You may also need to determine if your product contains any hazardous substances. 

Find out about hazardous substances in New Zealand  

Biosecurity issues

You will need to comply with the requirements of MPI which prevent diseases, pests and unwanted organisms from being brought into the country. You can contact MPI by phone at 0800 008 333 or email at AnimalImports@maf.govt.nz   

Go to the MPI website for more information