Genetic modification (GM) involves moving, inserting or deleting genes (the part of the cell that determines individual characteristics) within or between species.
GM in New Zealand is strictly controlled through the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). ERMA operates under strict laws, in line with the Government's cautious approach to GM. It considers each application on its merits and can approve an application only if benefits outweigh risks.
The GM rules are designed to allow New Zealanders to enjoy the opportunities of organic and conventional agriculture, while at the same time not closing the door to the contribution that GM may make to our way of life (especially medicinal and therapeutic).
GM is used in New Zealand for research and education, with much of the research being medical (eg, investigating treatments for multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis).
Any food that is genetically modified or contains genetically modified material must be approved as safe by Foods Standards Australia New Zealand and must be clearly labelled.