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Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996

The passing of New Zealand’s Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act) in June 1996 represented one of the most significant reforms of environmental legislation since the Resource Management Act. The Act came into force in two stages. Provisions relating to new organisms took effect in July 1998. The provisions relating to hazardous substances came into force on 2 July 2001.

The Act established the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA New Zealand) to assess and decide on applications to introduce hazardous substances or new organisms into New Zealand. This includes genetic modification of plants, animals and other living things in New Zealand. In July 2011, ERMA became the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). For more information visit the EPA website.

In 2003, the laws governing new organisms, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were amended in line with the Government’s overall policy of proceeding with caution with genetic modification while preserving opportunities. These laws came into force on 30 October 2003.

The Food Act 1981 makes the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (previously Australia New Zealand Food Authority) responsible for developing food standards and assessing the safety of genetically modified foods. For more information visit the Food Standards website.

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
(NZ Legislation website).


Last updated: 21 May 2013