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Genetic modification of organisms is a very controversial issue in New Zealand. Regulatory controls have been developed to try to manage the risk of research using genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Researchers at AgResearch investigated ways to genetically modify a nematode worm so that it could be used to help control possum numbers. The worm is a common parasite in possums, but in its natural form does not harm the possum it lives in. For the research, the worm would be genetically modified so that it could produce a chemical which will make possums infertile.

Genetic modification of organisms

Genetic modification of organisms is a very controversial issue in New Zealand. Regulatory controls have been developed to try to manage the risk of research using genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Environmental Protection Authority is responsible for giving permission to develop genetically modified organisms. The public also need to be consulted before any genetically modified organisms can be released.

End of the projects

Significant research effort and resources were put into possum contraceptive vaccines and hormone toxins. Funding for the projects finished in September 2010, partly due to risks associated with the biocontrol agents and controversy over genetic engineering.

    Published 1 December 2005, Updated 17 September 2018 Referencing Hub articles