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Community Support for Councils' appeal on GMO's

12/09/2019

The Far North District Council (FNDC) and the Whangarei District Council (WDC) have lodged a joint appeal against the Northland Regional Council’s (NRC) omission of precautionary rules in its plan. [1]

The NRC decision to omit any precautionary provisions from the Regional Plan was a complete reversal of the direction they gave to submitters in an earlier memorandum (minute 8) [2]. The decision also ignored the large amount of evidence from experts, planners, and submitters, who called for precautionary provisions to be implemented. The appeal by the two District Councils seeks to address the Northland Regional Council’s failure by seeking the inclusion of precautionary provisions as called for by 99% of the submitters. The NRC Councillors have disregarded the recommendations of their own Regional Policy Statement documents that require them to "give effect" to a precautionary approach to GMOs in their plan. [3]

Scientific uncertainty regarding the safety GE organisms reveals the potential for significant danger to residents and to the economy of Northland. With increasing commercialisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a release could be applied for in the near future. The Northland Regional Council is the only council body mandated to manage GE/GMO in the water bodies and coastal Marine Area and this decision leaves it exposed to liability for any contamination that might occur as once released GE/GMOs are not regulated.

Such exposure poses a great risk, if or when GMOs are released, for all farmers, as they will have no legal redress if their crops or land are contaminated with GMOs, because legislation no longer protects them. Once released, GMO become the local body’s responsibility to protect their ratepayers through much needed precautionary policies and regulations.

“We congratulate the FNDC and WDC on their decisions to appeal, understanding the need to preserve the economic and healthy livelihoods of the region from GMOs” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ. “GE Free NZ will support their appeal as a 274 party.”

References:

[1] ENV-2019-AKL-000177

[2] Minute 8 - Council Hearing of GE/GMO provisions. https://www.nrc.govt.nz/media/13319/minute-8-council-hearing-of-ge_gmo-provisions.pdf

[3] 6.1.2: Policy - Precautionary approach to GMO’s and 6.1.5: Explanation: Method 6.1.5 implements Policy 6.1.2.(p.112-115)
https://www.nrc.govt.nz/media/10930/regionalpolicystatementfornorthlandmay2016updatedmay2018.pdf

[4] www.gefree.org.nz

ENDS

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