Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Auckland to stay GE Free under new Unitary Plan

Auckland to stay GE Free under new Unitary Plan


The Soil & Health Association congratulates Auckland Council on its decision to retain the valuable precautionary and prohibitive genetically modified organisms (GMOs) provisions in the new Auckland Unitary Plan, which protect the Auckland region's GE-free status.

Auckland Council is now the second local authority in New Zealand to officially become GE-Free in its local plan, after Hastings District Council decided last year to ban all outdoor use of GMOs in their district plan. Auckland food producers, like those in Hastings, can now brand their products as grown in a GE-Free food producing area.

“GE crops pose a serious threat to the investment made by primary producers in their GE-free enterprises,” says Soil & Health Chair Marion Thomson. “GMOs are not allowed in food or farming according to organic certification standards, and there have been numerous overseas examples of farmers losing their GE-free or certified organic status because of contamination from GE crops.” Non-GE crops carry a specific market-based premium that GE crops do not command. According to the 2016 Organic Market Report, New Zealanders are eating and growing more organic produce than ever before. Award winning Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Simon Beamish recently stated: “As a farmer, exporter, I can confirm that consumers want GM free produce and that market demand is growing.”

Soil & Health, which has advocated for a GM-free New Zealand on behalf of its members and supporters for many years, joined with 26 other submitters to present expert witnesses, mana whenua, and community voice evidence to the Independent Hearings Panel at the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan hearing on GMOs last September. Soil & Health supported the proposed precautionary approach to GMOs, and in particular outright prohibition of GMO releases. “Including strong GMO policy and provisions in the final Auckland Unity Plan provides an important acknowledgement of community views and concerns,” says Thomson.

Auckland Council has decided to allow GMO research in controlled environments and the use of veterinary vaccines that contain GMOs as permitted activities, but outdoor field trials and the use of vaccines by people who are not veterinarians are discretionary activities. Release of GMOs into the environment is a prohibited activity, which would require a plan change before being undertaken.

The new Auckland plan also contains a strict liability provision whereby consent holders for outdoor field trialling of GMOs will be held financially accountable for any adverse effects associated with the activity, for example through contamination, including clean up costs and remediation. The Council, through the plan, further requires consent holders to provide a bond that would be made available for any costs of adverse effects associated with the activity. This is important given there are limited liability provisions under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, as identified by Local Government NZ and a large number of councils. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for approving the outdoor use of GMOs in New Zealand; there is, however, no requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor use of GMOs.

One of the most important Environment Court decisions of last year was the finding that councils have the right to control the use of GMOs in their area under the Resource Management Act. Federated Farmers since appealed that decision to the High Court. The case was heard in Whangarei in February this year. The decision from the High Court is yet to be released.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Risk Of Being Short Changed By Pfizer

Who knew that the delivery of the Covid vaccines was going to be such a headache? All the predictions had been around the likely distribution problems. Would there be enough trained vaccinators around the country, a sufficient number of medical glass vials, a sufficiently robust “cold chain” to safely store the vaccines out in the field? All those issues remain. Currently though, production and delivery concerns are also hovering over whether the drug companies will live up to their contractual commitments, on time... More>>


National: Leader Of The Opposition’s State Of The Nation Speech

Kia ora and thank you for that welcome. It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you to the Rotary Club of Auckland and the EMA for hosting me at this first event in your centenary year. National and Rotary share many common principles, including community ... More>>


Ministry Of Health: Probable Case Of COVID-19 In A Returnee

The Ministry of Health is investigating a positive test result in a person who recently travelled from overseas and completed their stay in managed isolation in a facility in Auckland. In the case we are investigating and reporting today, the person had ... More>>


Oranga Tamariki: Chief Executive Grainne Moss Steps Down

Controversial Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss has decided to step down. More>>


USA: Prime Minister Congratulates President Joe Biden On His Inauguration

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter ... More>>


Government: New Zealand And China Sign FTA Upgrade

Trade Ministers for New Zealand and China today signed an upgrade to the free trade agreement between the two countries. “This modernises our free trade agreement and ensures it will remain fit for purpose for another decade,” Minister for Trade ... More>>

Oxfam NZ: Wealth Of New Zealand’s Richest Person’s Soars By $3.4bn Since Beginning Of Pandemic

New Zealand’s richest citizen, Graeme Hart, has seen his fortune increase by NZ$3,494,333,333 since March 2020 – a sum equivalent to over half a million New Zealanders receiving a cheque for NZ$6,849 each, reveals a new analysis from Oxfam today. The New Zealand ... More>>


Government: New Public Housing Plan Announced

RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON DR MEGAN WOODS The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government ... More>>

Government: Pre-Departure Testing Extended To All Passengers To New Zealand

To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. More>>





InfoPages News Channels