Developers want the Government to relax New Zealand’s laws on genetic modification (GM) to allow a new generation of genetic engineering techniques to escape regulation.
They hope that by avoiding labelling and mandatory safety testing they can sidestep the market rejection that has beleaguered first generation GM techniques.
This audacious bid to evade public scrutiny comes as two-thirds of Europe’s arable land has been effectively deemed GM Free and amid an exponential growth in US demand for food products certified as non-GM.
Were New Zealand to deregulate any of the new generation GM techniques now, it would put the country at the bleeding edge of the new GM frontier and generate serious exposures for the nation’s food exporters.
Recognising these risks, the Government has judged that deregulating new GM at this time is not in the country’s best interests. The Environment Minister stated:
New Zealand is an exporter of billions of dollars of food products and we receive a premium for our natural brand and high quality standards. [...] we do not want New Zealand getting ahead of market perceptions of these new biotechnologies.