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Ecological modernization versus sustainable development: the case of genetic modification regulation in New Zealand


  • Jeanette Wright
  • Priya Kurian


Ecological modernization and sustainable development are the two dominant paradigms in environmental policy. This paper assesses the implications of competing understandings of ecological modernization and sustainable development using the case of genetic modification regulation in New Zealand. Although the New Zealand regulatory framework embraces the symbolic language of sustainability, it ultimately adheres to a narrow notion of ecological modernization. By adopting a technically driven risk management process and a diluted precautionary approach, alongside limiting public input into decision-making on genetic modification, it undercuts its commitment to sustainable development definitionally and procedurally. Analysis of the New Zealand biotechnology policy regulatory framework, which consists of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act and the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), shows how institutionalization of a narrow conception of ecological modernization can preempt real commitment to sustainable development. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeanette Wright & Priya Kurian, 2010. "Ecological modernization versus sustainable development: the case of genetic modification regulation in New Zealand," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(6), pages 398-412, November/.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:6:p:398-412

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