Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Councils Must Learn Lessons of Leaky Buildings

Councils Must Learn Lessons of Leaky Buildings and Control GMOs

GE-Free NZ in food and environment welcomes the legal opinion and recommendations of an inter-council working party that has found local and regional authorities have a duty of care to protect their environment and communities from uninsurable long term harm from GMOs.

The working party made up of Councils from across Auckland and the north, details the need for a precautionary approach to prevent potentially enormous costs falling to ratepayers from damage arising from commercial release of GE organisms.

Under the legislation in place there is no policy for 'polluter pays' to ensure companies causing accidental harm from GE crops or GE animals are held responsible. Potential for accidental damage includes contamination of soil, emergence of resistant weeds, chemical residues in waterways, and economic loss to regions marketing their products and tourism under New Zealand's global clean-green brand.

The report of the inter-council working group is based on a Section 32 analysis under the RMA. Its pragmatic approach gives hope that Councils are learning from past experiences such as the leaky buildings fiasco, in order to properly protect their residents. Councils must act to manage costs that are slated down to local authorities and ratepayers and are effectively a subsidy for private commercial ventures, including GMOs.

"The impact of sabotage with melanine and recent DCD contamination in New Zealand milk gives insight on the economic threat to all regions from GMOs," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"There are good reasons why the public cannot have confidence in safety standards and regulation driven by industry and central government."

"Wherever you stand on the GE debate, it is now recognised that as a nation we need to protect our GE-free status throughout the food chain. Our economy is reliant on our capacity to produce clean, safe food. Councils have a duty of care to address risky activities in order to protect their citizens and preserve the integrity of the environment that sustains our economy."

A 2009 survey of residents commissioned by the Councils involved in the working group found that more than two thirds of residents across the region support local government action to protect against damage from GMOs.

The challenge for councils now is to defend the public interest and resist corporate lobbying against the precautionary principle in plans. There is a real threat to democracy from companies using their power and access to government to impose policy that is tantamount to lining their own pockets at public expense.

The push-back by vested interests who benefit financially from 'socialised risk' subsidising their activities and exposing ratepayers and councils to costs, has already been seen in the Bay of Plenty.

Forestry Crown Research Insitute Scion has appealed against Environment Bay of Plenty's precautionary policy and has recently lobbied Auckland Councillors by presenting arguments that 'industry knows best', despite clear evidence to the contrary including previous biosecurity breaches at Scion's GE trial sites.

There is also a history of MAF, now Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), failing to enforce the rules approved for containment and monitoring of GE experiments. As well as inadequately monitoring GE field trials in New Zealand MPI can choose to unilaterally weaken controls set by ERMA (now the EPA) and intended to keep GE material contained. This cuts the public, independent scientists and local primary producers out of the process.

Councils have a responsibility to defend the precautionary approach in regional plans which is fundamental to protecting their communities from long term harm and from vested commercial interests.

As a society we must learn from past examples of technological failure, and of unacceptable public subsidy of private commercial risk-taking.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Northland By-Election

Supposedly, Winston Peters’ victory in Northland has exposed the simmering dissatisfaction with the government that exists out in the provinces. Yet it remains to be seen whether this defeat will have much significance – and not simply because if and when Labour resumes business as usual in the Northland seat at the next election, Peters’ hold on it could simply evaporate.

On Saturday, National’s electorate vote declined by 7,000 votes, as the 9,000 majority it won last September turned into a 4,000 vote deficit – mainly because Labour supporters followed the nod and wink given by Labour leader Andrew Little, and voted tactically for Peters. In the process, Labour’s vote went down from nearly 9,000 votes six months ago, to only 1,315 on Saturday. More>>

 
 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Climate: Ministers Exclude Emissions From ‘Environment Reporting'

The National Party Government has today revealed that the national environmental report topics for this year will, incredibly, exclude New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

No Retrial: Freedom At Last For Teina Pora

The Māori Party is relieved that the Privy Council has cleared the final legal hurdle for Teina Pora who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sent to prison for 22 years. More>>

ALSO:

Germanwings Crash: Privacy Act Supports Aviation Safeguards In New Zealand

Reports that German privacy laws may have contributed to the Germanwings air crash have prompted New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner to reassure the public that the Privacy Act is no impediment to medical practitioners notifying appropriate authorities to a pilot’s health concerns. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty: Taranaki Iwi Ngāruahine Settles Treaty Claims For $67.5mln

The settlement includes a $13.5 million payment the government made in June 2013, as well as land in the Taranaki region. The settlement also includes four culturally significant sites, the Waipakari Reserve, Te Kohinga Reserve, Te Ngutu o te Manu and Te Poho o Taranaki. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Funeral In Asia, The Northland By-Election, And News Priorities

Supposedly, New Zealand’s destiny lies in Asia, and that was one of Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s rationales for his bungled reforms at MFAT. OK. So, if that’s the case why didn’t Prime Minister John Key attend the state funeral on Sunday of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew? More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Satire: Not Flag-Waving; Flag-Drowning

The panel choosing the flag options has no visual artists at all. Now, I’ve kerned the odd ligature in my time and I know my recto from my French curve so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions before they get past their depth. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA Reports: Significant Problems In Police Custody

In releasing two reports today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way in which Police deal with people who are detained in Police cells. More>>

ALSO:

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security: Inquiry Into GCSB Pacific Allegations

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data. More>>

ALSO:

TPPA Investment Leak: "NZ Surrender To US" On Corporates Suing Governments

Professor Jane Kelsey: ‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: The Myth Of Steven Joyce

Gordon Campbell: The myth of competence that’s been woven around Steven Joyce – the Key government’s “Minister of Everything” and “Mr Fixit” – has been disseminated from high-rises to hamlets, across the country... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news