Permitting Poison: Pesticide Regulation in Aotearoa New Zealand

60 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2018 Last revised: 12 Oct 2021

See all articles by Catherine J. Iorns Magallanes

Catherine J. Iorns Magallanes

Victoria University of Wellington, Te Herenga Waka - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 31, 2018


This article discusses aspects of the New Zealand regulation of pesticides, in the light of current concerns about global losses of biodiversity. It first briefly outlines current pesticide testing and concerns with pesticide risk assessment. Part II addresses the New Zealand pesticide laws, including a brief history of New Zealand pesticide regulation in order to provide some perspective for the following description of the current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (NZ). Two case studies are provided: the regulation of neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos. Part III discusses two key areas for improvement: the role of precaution and alternative frameworks for pesticide regulation, most notably ecosystem-based management and true ecological sustainability. It concludes that the current model of integrated management from the 1990s is now outdated. Pesticide regulation in New Zealand needs to consider a wider range of effects of pesticides on human health and the environment, be more precautionary in order to better avoid adverse effects, and take greater account of Māori values and interests. Overall, the wider role of pesticide regulation as part of the management of global biodiversity needs to be acknowledged, with it forming part of a global move to stem the loss of biodiversity worldwide.

Note: This is the author’s submitted draft of the article that appears in the Thompson Reuters journal (paid subscription).

Keywords: Pesticides, New Zealand, Neonicotinoids, Chlorpyrifos, EBM, Precaution, Biodiversity

JEL Classification: K1, K2, K11, K32

Suggested Citation

Iorns, Catherine, Permitting Poison: Pesticide Regulation in Aotearoa New Zealand (July 31, 2018). (2018) 35 EPLJ 456-490, Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 33/2021, Available at SSRN: or

Catherine Iorns (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington, Te Herenga Waka - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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