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N.Z. placed 2-year constraint period on release of GMOs.

SYDNEY, Oct. 30 Kyodo

Prime Minister Helen Clark said Tuesday that New Zealand has placed a two-year constraint period on the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) while further research is undertaken.

The decision ends an 18-month voluntary ban on field trials and follows a recent recommendation by the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, which called for ''preserving opportunities'' for New Zealand in the area of genetic engineering.

''The decisions outlined today strike a balance between the need to protect our health and environment, and the need to have knowledge and innovation drive our future as a nation,'' Clark said.

''We will not close the door on science, but nor will we allow unrestricted use and development of genetically modified organisms.''

According to Environment Minister Marian Hobbs, no GMOs will be released for the next two years, except if they are specifically approved to improve health, and no genetically modified food will be grown in New Zealand for the ''foreseeable future.''

But biotechnology and medical research would be allowed to continue ''under contained conditions,'' she said.

Hobbs said the government would legislate to ensure that the Environmental Risk Management Authority imposed strict safety standards on applications approved for contained research. In addition, a bioethics council, as recommended by the royal commission, would be set up during the two year constraint period.

The decision was welcomed by a group of lawmakers within the ruling Labor Party which has voiced concerns about GMOs in the past and continue to label their release into the environment as ''not acceptable.''

''We support the decision to proceed with a two-year ban on any commercial release of genetically modified organisms immediately,'' Labor Maori Caucus leader Mita Ririnui said.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Nov 5, 2001
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