New Organisms Legislation Comes Into Effect Tomorrow

  • Simon Upton

"New Zealand's environment will be in safer hands from tomorrow when the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, 1996, comes into effect for New Organisms", the Minister for the Environment, Hon Simon Upton, said today.

The Act will come into force in two distinct stages. The provisions relating to new organisms will start up tomorrow, 29 July 1998, with the balance of the Act (those sections relating to hazardous substances) targeted for start up on 1 April 1999.

>From tomorrow those wanting to introduce a new organism to New Zealand's island ecology or to develop or release a Genetically Modified Organisms must do so under the new legislation.

The Minister said, "all players will now be operating in an updated process. The Environmental Risk Management Authority was set up under the Act with an explicit requirement to take risk management decisions about the introduction of new organisms in as rigorous, transparent, and efficient a way as possible.

"The Act takes risk management decisions visibly out of the reach of politicians and provides a statutory basis for public input into these important decisions."

The start-up of the Hazardous Substances part of the Act, which was to begin on 1 October 1998, has been delayed until 1 April 1999. Mr Upton said, "I am convinced that an extension of time will be constructively used by industry, in particular, to understand and comment on those elements of regulation that will significantly affect them".

"The HSNO Act is a technically complex piece of legislation which will make considerable demands on a wide range of industry groups. A better informed and better prepared industry will result in a smoother start up of the new system dealing with hazardous substances," Mr Upton concluded.