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Councillor Wayne Walker on the GMO issue

Councillor Wayne Walker on the GMO issue

4th February 2013

The prospect of Councils taking action on the possible release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment took a step closer today with the latest report out from the Inter-Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options (ICWP).

The ICWP is a collaborative group set up by the Councils that cover Auckland and north of Auckland to focus on issues associated with GMOs as they affect local authorities.

Auckland Councillor Wayne Walker and chairman of the Council’s Environment and Sustainability Forum represented the Auckland Council at the recent meeting of the ICWP.

“We now have available to the member Councils a package of information that can be used as the basis for Plan Changes under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to control the release of GMOs in to the environment.”

“There is the draft wording for a Plan Change, the back-up reasoning behind it or Section 32 report, and legal opinions that give the ICWP the confidence that the Plan Change is workable, appropriate and defendable. It does not cover GMOs in the laboratory.”

“The suggested wording does not close the door on release of GMOs into the environment, but it imposes strict conditions around surety, liability, and costs. This is in line with how councils treat other hazards. It means that Councils will not be faced with the risks and the clean-ups. This makes reasonable common sense. It also follows the precautionary approach so that the release of GMOs into the environment is stopped in the meantime.”

“The next step is for Councils including the Auckland Council to seek public feedback though the Plan Change process. In the Auckland Council case we have the opportunity to have some wording around GMOs in the preliminary draft plan that goes out for public comment on the 15th of March. I know there is huge concern around the GMO issue.”

“By working together on this issue the member Councils of the ICWP have been able to share costs and effort. If the Councils are able to put out similar Plan Changes we could share the costs of possible challenges.”

“It may well be that other Councils around New Zealand come on board and I would hope this is the case.

The full wording is available from Monday evening on the websites of the Auckland Council and the Whangarei District Council.”


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