View all publications

Who makes the decision about applications?

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) is responsible for regulating all research, importation, development, field testing and release of genetically modified organisms. Its assessment process is public, and public hearings must be held on any applications to field test or release a genetically modified organism, except for some low-risk medicines and veterinary medicines. ERMA is an independent Crown agency established under the HSNO Act.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is the agency that develops food standards for both Australia and New Zealand, emphasising the protection of public health and safety. The final approving body for standards developed by FSANZ is the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council (ANZFSC), which is made up of the New Zealand Minister of Health and the Australian Commonwealth, state and territory Ministers of Health.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) protects and promotes public health and safety and facilitates access to markets for New Zealand food and food-related products. It administers the Food Act 1981, and in that role oversees standards for the safety, labelling and composition of food sold in New Zealand, including imported food and food ingredients produced using genetic modification.

Medsafe is the unit of the New Zealand Ministry of Health which approves medical products for distribution and regulates products used for therapeutic purposes. It both approves products before they are put on the market in this country and monitors their safety afterwards.

Decisions on low-risk genetic research are made by the Institutional Biological Safety Committees (IBSCs) in the university or research centre concerned. IBSCs usually consist of members of the institution where the research would be undertaken and members of the community in which the institution is situated, including a Māori representative. IBSCs have delegated authority from ERMA and must follow ERMA's rules. IBSCs are regularly audited by ERMA to check that they are following the correct procedures.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) enforces compliance with the conditions for genetically modified organisms imposed by ERMA on approved field tests and conditional release applications. It also inspects laboratories doing GM work to make sure they are secure and have the proper approvals. MAF is responsible for ensuring importers comply with both the HSNO and the Biosecurity Acts. MAF also has other responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act and for checking that the unapproved release of new organisms does not take place.

The Ministry for the Environment advises the Government on environmental laws and policies, including managing the risks of introducing new organisms. It is responsible for the management and maintenance of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.

MAF also has other responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act and for checking that the unapproved release of new organisms does not take place.