• Simon Upton

Environment Minister Simon Upton said today that the call by the Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council (IBAC) to hold off on the unrestricted release of genetically modified plants was a sensible one.

IBAC has written to the Science Minister, Maurice Williamson, recommending that any decision about the first release of GM plants should await the findings of IBAC's public consultation that is currently taking place.

Mr Upton continued, "however, there is currently no legal means of stopping anyone making an application to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) or to stop consideration of an application if it was received."

"As Minister, I too am subject to the HSNO Act. While I have power to call in the application, I must make decisions on effectively the same basis as the ERMA."

To date, no application for release of a GMO has been received by the ERMA.

"It seems to me that any biotechnology company considering an application to grow a genetically modified crop outside of containment would be well advised to wait until the IBAC has completed its consultation with the public."

"After the IBAC investigation has been completed, both potential applicants and the Government will be better informed about public concerns and able to make decisions about what action is required," Mr Upton concluded.