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Council Moves To Protect Its Community From GM Organisms

Whangarei District Council Moves To Protect Its Community From Genetically Modified Organisms

GE FREE NORTHLAND Press Release, 15 April 2011

Whangarei District Council Moves To Protect Its Community From Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Whangarei District Councillors have voted unanimously to reject the outdoor use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and animals in the District. Whangarei District Council will now actively seek to undertake a collaborative plan change with all Northland councils and Auckland Council to keep GMOs out of the wider region.

Well done WDC!

This historic rejection of GE crops, trees and animals reflects the concerns of communities about the lack of protection afforded by central government in relation to GMO land use and significant risks to the environment, economy and farmers.

"The move to protect Whangarei District's existing valuable GM free status GE in the Whangarei District Plan is a victory for common sense.

Whangarei District Council must be congratulated on its leadership in the face of central government's ongoing failure to properly amend the flawed Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) legislation, despite years of lobbying by the member councils of the "Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options" and other local authorities", said Linda Grammer, spokesperson for GE FREE NORTHLAND.

"Communities, ratepayers and consumers have a basic right to protect their biosecurity, primary producers, economy and environment, and that is what the WDC decision supports."

Increasing documentation of adverse impacts of GE crops in the overseas countries who have allowed commercial GE primary production highlights increased environmental problems ranging from soil degradation, contamination of water supplies with GE toxins, ecosystem damage, as well as increasing insect and weed resistance to proprietary herbicides and pesticides.

Claims of benefits from GE crops have failed to eventuate, and careful scrutiny of conventional vs GE crop yields overseas shows that in the vast majority of cases GE crops do not increase yields. In fact, GE crops in general suffer from a significant yield drag.

NZ is in the business of producing the very best, safe, high quality food for the most discerning. Rejection of GE crops in New Zealand is due to the fact that our key markets and discerning customers will not tolerate even trace GE contamination in our products.

The failure of central government to protect and preserve the GE-Free choice for farmers and consumers is a threat to the economic and other benefits of New Zealand's GE-free, clean, green, natural reputation.

Local action by councils is a necessary response to central government actively undermining the 100% Pure NZ brand.

Whangarei District Council has put a stake in the ground for an investment in its GE-Free future. Risky commercial ventures with hazardous new technologies should not be foisted on communities, especially given the lack of strict liability.

Our thanks to Whangarei District Council who have, in conjunction with the Auckland/Northland "Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Option" listened to the communities voice and made a historic decision with positive implications for all of NZ.


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