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Aucklanders seek local say on GMOs

Aucklanders seek local say on GMOs


10 December 2009

Most Aucklanders feel that local communities should have a greater say on any future use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their area. 

A recent Colmar Brunton poll found that communities want more involvement in decision-making on GMO use either by setting rules through local or regional councils, or by lobbying central government to make national changes.

In addition, whether or not respondents wanted local government involvement, most people strongly favoured making GMO producers legally responsible for any environmental or economic harm that may happen as a result.  At present this is not the case.

The poll, which was carried out to gauge local community views on GMOs and their management, sought views from across the Auckland and Northland regions. 

It was commissioned by the Inter-Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options. Comprising the local councils of Whangarei, the Far North, Kaipara, Rodney District, Waitakere City and the Auckland and Northland regional councils, the working party addresses a number of concerns around the current central government policy on GMOs, particularly the lack of full liability for clean up costs.

“The poll clearly tells us that we should continue to work to the common sense position that local authorities can represent the community on issues that potentially affect each and every ratepayer,” says Councillor Brent Morrissey, the Auckland Regional Council’s working party representative.

“As it stands, central government is ignoring the rights of local communities to have a say on matters that affect their local area, potentially setting us on a path where local authorities become responsible for cleaning up the effects of other’s activities when GMOs escape into the wider environment.   

“Overseas experience of GMO contamination of non-GMO crops and species, and the recent disturbing lapses in security at GMO experiment facilities in Christchurch, give us no confidence that the current processes are water-tight,” he says.

“We feel that more needs to be done to protect the economy and environment of New Zealand. Local government may have to step into the breach if central government won’t.”



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