Feds call for review of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to urgently set up an expert panel to review the regulation of genetic modification (GM).

A press statement from the federation says this has been prompted by the recently published study carried out by US-based National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The study  examined the literature,  listened to speakers and heard comments from the public to determine the negative effects and benefits of commercial GM crops.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the report found there was no substantiated evidence of a difference in risk to human health between current commercial GE crops and conventional crops.

“There was no conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from GE crops. In fact, the report concludes that GM crops may even be better for the environment,” he says.

Looking to the future of GM crops, the report notes that new genetic technologies are blurring the line between conventional and GM crops, and that regulatory systems need to assess crop varieties based on their individual characteristics, not the way they are produced.

“This is the very message Federated Farmers and other science and industry organisations gave to the New Zealand government in October 2014, calling for a change in legislation from outdated technology based to risk based assessment to enable effective management and regulation of all GM technologies.

“Since then the rules around genetic modification have become even more distorted and anachronistic by classifying all techniques developed since 1998 as GM. Imagine if we applied similar logic to cell- phones or motor cars.”

Dr Rolleston says any review should develop the principles which would underpin new legislation taking into account credible scientific evidence of risks and benefits, coexistence and a fair balance or rights between those wanting to use GM products and those wanting to avoid them.

He says farmers should be given the choice to use safe and effective technologies if they are to continue to be world leaders in agriculture.

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