Position Statements on Biotechnology

New Zealand Royal Commission


On the 30th of July 2001,the New Zealand Royal Commission into Genetic Modification (RCGM) finally released its recommendations to the Cabinet. The 1200-page report was the outcome of 14 months of consultation with advocates and opponents of genetic modification (GM). The Commission was an independent review panel set up to report to the government on the options available to New Zealand to deal with genetic modification, and to advise on appropriate changes to government policy, regulatory legislation, public institutions, and the future direction of biotechnology and associated research. This inquiry was a first of its kind in the world.

Briefly, it stated that "genetic modification (GM) holds exciting promise, not only for conquering diseases, eliminating pests and contributing to the knowledge economy, but for enhancing the international competitiveness of the primary industries so important to our country's economic well being." The Commission said that it would like to see this happen in an atmosphere that "encourages the coexistence of all forms of agriculture." Nevertheless, it stressed that "we should proceed carefully by minimizing and managing risks." Its consultation process involved 15 public meetings, 11 hui, 29 workshops, 1 youth forum, and 13 weeks of hearings from 107 interested persons. The Commission also received more than 10,000 public submissions and conducted a public opinion survey of 1153 New Zealanders.

The RCGM report has been favorably received by the international scientific community. Many have commented that "an admirable level of scientific rigor was applied to the vast pile of submissions received by the RCGM, which consisted of a retired chief justice, a cleric, a scientist and a teacher. The RCGM process afforded all sides to present their best case, and exposed factual error and unfounded hyperbole when it was encountered". The RCGM did not endorse GM technology entirely or ban it completely. It has recommended that research on GM crops and animals "proceed with caution".

After three months of intense discussion, the New Zealand government finally responded to the RCGM report. It has decided to lift the ban on field trials for GM crops, but it imposed tough new rules on any new trials and banned the commercial release of GM products for two years.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said "science and research must continue with strict controls in place to protect the health of New Zealanders and the environment.

Click here to get a copy of the the report.

International Support:

  1. International Organizations
  2. Africa
  3. Asia
  4. Europe
  5. North America
  6. Latin America
  7. Oceania

International Organizations

- Food and Agricultural Organization
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
- World Health Organization
- United Nations Development Programme
- United Nations Environment Programme
- Third World Academy of Sciences

- Agenda 21
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- Vatican Pontifical Academy on Life

- International Council for Science Union

- International Life Sciences Institute


- International Society of African Scientists
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
- Africabio
- South African Minister Ngubane's statement at WSSD
- National Biotechnology Strategy for South Africa
- Former Kenyan President Moi's letter to US President Clinton

- Nigerian President Obasanjo's Statement


- Asian Development Bank
- Chinese Academy of Sciences
- Indian National Academy of Sciences
- National Academy of Science and Technology (Philippines)
- Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir's Speech at BioMalaysia 2002
- Policy Statement on Biotechnology (Philippines)


- Royal Society of London

- Prime Minister Blair's speech

- European Commission

- French Academy of Science

North America


United States of America

- American Medical Association
- American Society for Microbiology
- National Academy of Sciences
- National Research Council
- American Society of Plant Biologists
- Federation of Animal Science Societies
- American Midwest Farmers

  • American Agri-Women
  • American Soybean Association
  • National Chicken Council
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • National Cotton Council
  • National Milk Producers Federation
  • National Potato Council
  • National Turkey Federation
  • United Soybean Board


- Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee
- The Royal Society of Canada (The Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities)
- Industry Canada (Federal Department of Industry)
- The 1998 Canadian Biotechnology Strategy: A Ongoing Renewal Process

Latin America

- Brazilian Academy of Sciences
- Mexican Academy of Sciences


- New Zealand Royal Commission

- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
- Australia New Zealand Food Authority
- Australian Biotechnology: A National Strategy (2000)

- National Farmers' Federation

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