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Information Resource
Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2007-09-02 12:51 UTC (UNEP-GEF)
Date of last update
2012-05-02 15:52 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-05-07 13:17 UTC (andrew.bowers@cbd.int)

General Information
Preparing information on risks, costs and benefits for applications under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
Environmental Risk Management Authority: ERMA New Zealand ;
Organization(s) involved in the publication of this resource
ERMA New Zealand
  • English
Publication date
Summary, abstract or table of contents
This guide is part of a series of technical guides produced by ERMA New Zealand to help people involved with the HSNO Act. It will be particularly helpful for those people who are reviewing applications (and that is the way it has been written), but it may also be useful for applicants and those people interested in HSNO related risks more generally. People with a less technical interest in HSNO are advised to start with the other series of documents we publish, especially:

▪  the quick guides (aimed at a very general audience or for those making a first acquaintance with HSNO);
▪  the user guides (aimed at those directly involved with HSNO but not a great degree of technical detail).

Publications in this technical series are not formally endorsed by ERMA New Zealand. They are intended to provide a technical point of reference. Most of the documents are authored by a member of staff, but in other cases, there may be an external author.

This guide overviews the process of identifying and assessing HSNO risks, costs and benefits. It is potentially relevant to all applications made under Part V of the HSNO Act. The information in this guide has been consolidated from the first set of Protocols issued by the Authority, now obsolete. Protocols are formal documents that have the approval of the Authority. In this instance it was decided that the material did not warrant this status because it had not yet been .proved. in a wide range of circumstances. However, ERMA New Zealand is sufficiently confident of the material to make it available as a technical guide.

Existing worldwide knowledge of risk identification and assessment is more based on experience with hazardous substances than with new organisms. This is reflected in the content of this guide. For example there is emphasis on the .magnitude vs probability. paradigm that is standard in the risk analysis profession and very applicable to hazardous substances. It is also readily applicable to organisms in containment where the dominant issue tends to be probability of escape and the consequences if escape occurs.
The conventional paradigm is less applicable to the release of new organisms because release is concerned with the behaviour of biological and ecological systems over unlimited periods of time. Biological and ecological systems are dynamic, self-managing to a degree, evolutionary in character and non-linear in behaviour. A paradigm based on as simplistic a notion as assessing probability and consequences for separately identified risks is thus unlikely to capture the nuances of good decision making. However, the simplistic paradigm is all that we currently have and the challenge for ERMA New Zealand is to develop a better approach. Much of that development will occur through doing and learning. ie dealing with real issues in applications as they occur and translating the solutions into a wider developmental framework.
Thematic areas
Background material to the “Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms”
Is this document is recommend as background material for the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms”
Section(s) of the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” this background material is relevant
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Manual / Tutorial / FAQ / Dictionary
Adobe Acrobat Reader
United Nations Environment Program document: UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/2/9 ;