As the European Commission tells member states to tow the EU line over genetically modified organisms, the issue continues to gain pace elsewhere in the world. A report released today in New Zealand on the economic risks and opportunities of releasing genetically modified organisms opts for the cautious approach, but also suggests that GMOs would have a small economic benefit over the next 10 years.
Commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment and Treasury, the research is part of the government's response to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. It is one of many initiatives the government is undertaking to ensure the appropriate regulatory system is in place when the moratorium on releasing GMOs lifts on October 29.
"The report confirms the government's cautious, case-by-case approach based on preserving opportunities," said Environment Minister Marian Hobbs. "The research shows that the most likely economic impact from the careful and considered release of GMOs would be a small increase in GDP over 10 years, compared to a small decrease from forgoing GMO releases.
"The report also confirms that the most beneficial way ahead is to actively manage the potential risks and enhance the potential benefits. The government is doing this through its response to the Royal Commission report and in its safe sensible approach to GM," she added.
The research study, part of the government's package of measures in response to the 2001 report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, was drawn up by private research company Business and Economic Research as one of the last studies asked for by the government before the moratorium on commercial releases of GMOs is lifted in October. Essentially, it investigated the costs and benefits of releasing GMOs and of not releasing them.
The study canvassed three specific examples of releases in pastoral agriculture, pest control, and human therapeutics, and tested them on two economic models - an agricultural trade model and an economy-wide model.
Full findings from the report can be accessed on the government website.