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Northern Communities Want Stricter GE Controls

Northern Communities Want Stricter GE Controls

GE FREE Northland welcomes the news that Far North District Council and Whangarei District Council voted unanimously last week to jointly publicly notify the GMO Plan Change to ban all GMO releases and make any EPA approved outdoor GE experiments/ field trials a Discretionary activity (subject to additional local requirements that the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act does not require).

"This process is in keeping with the proposed collaborative GMO Plan change with Auckland Council, who has already begun the process through the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan," said Martin Robinson, spokesman for GE Free Northland.

The member councils of the Northland/ Auckland "Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options" are acting in a cost effective manner to introduce the plan change and defend any legal challenge.

The northern Councils have acted in keeping with the wishes of the majority of Northland and Auckland residents and ratepayers, to create a much needed additional local tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

"The President of Local Government NZ, Lawrence Yule, recognizes and agrees with councils taking steps to create an additional local tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs because their ratepayers want a more precautionary approach than central government requires," added Mr. Robinson.

The work undertaken by local councils on behalf of their farmers and other ratepayers is necessary given serious deficiencies in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. These deficiencies include a lack of strict liability under the HSNO Act and no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor GE experiments and releases.

Councils in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay have all responded similarly
to on-going concerns about outdoor use of GMOs by their constituents, by investigating the risks posed by GMOs in the environment, and how they can best minimise these risks.

This is a great example of local councils working together collaboratively for the good of the wider region. It is critical that local authorities jurisdiction and local democratic process is respected by central government.

We thank FNDC and WDC for acting on their duty of care to their constituents, the environment and our economy.


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