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Federated Farmers Slammed by Judge

Federated Farmers Slammed by Judge for Cynical Attempt to Block Precautionary GMO Provisions in Regional Plan

GE Free Northland
26 April 2018 Media Release

After fighting legal battles regarding the important GE/GMO issue with Federated Farmers of NZ since 2014, GE-Free Northland welcomes the 12 April 2018 decision by the Environment Court, declining Federated Farmers’ attempt to challenge regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) under the RMA and supporting appellant Whangarei District Council.

Whangarei District Council and a broad range of interested parties including GE-Free Northland, Tai Tokerau mana whenua, Far North District Council, and the Soil & Health Association have now secured not only local authorities' right to manage or ban the outdoor use of GMOs in their regions but also valuable precautionary GMO provisions and other wording in the Northland Regional Policy Statement.

In the latest case before the Environment Court regarding genetically modified organisms, Whangarei District Council showed great leadership, appealing the Northland Regional Council’s Regional Policy Statement. WDC asked NRC to delete one word—‘plants’—so that the policy would require a strong precautionary approach toward all outdoor use of GMOs—not just transgenic plants.

“The court’s decision is not only a victory for all Northlanders concerned about genetic engineering and the risks of outdoor use of GMOs, but vindication of the good work of local councils to create a much needed additional tier of protection on top of what the Hazardous Substances and new Organisms (HSNO) Act requires," said Zelka Grammer, chairperson GE Free Tai Tokerau.

"Local Government NZ, many councils, primary producer boards, and local mana whenua have identified serious deficiencies in the HSNO Act, including inadequate liability provisions and no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor GE applications," said Grammer.

"Case law and the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 now protect the right of local councils to create enforceable GE-free Zones", said Grammer.

Principal Environment Court Judge Newhook noted in his decision that "FFNZ's argument was rather difficult to follow in logic"..."a series of non-sequiturs...and it is not open to Federated Farmers to run these arguments again, especially in view of the binding findings of the High Court."

Despite the warning by Judge Newhook (who also made the unusual decision to allow the defendant parties to apply for costs), FFNZ has yet to withdraw their various vexatious appeals against other councils working to protect their constituents and the environment from the risks of outdoor use of GMOs.

FFNZ's current GE/GMO appeals include Whangarei District Council and Far North District Council's excellent collaborative GMO plan changes, precautionary and prohibitive GMO provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan, and the outright ban of all outdoor use of GE/GMOs in the Hastings District Plan.

"We ask Federated Farmers to be prudent and now withdraw their other outstanding vexatious appeals against the Whangarei District Council, Far North District Council, Auckland Council, and Hastings District Council," said Zelka Grammer, chairperson of GE-Free Northland.

“FFNZ should support their hard working members in producing exports that add value to and protect NZ's clean, green, GE-free image. FFNZ has not only wasted their own members' hard earned money and resources but councils’ and ratepayers’ time and money as well," said Grammer. "Outdoor use of genetically modified organisms, whether they be plants, animals, or microorganisms, presents unacceptable risks to existing GE-free primary producers and their valuable enterprises, our biosecurity, and the wider environment.”

GE-Free Northland thank Whangarei District Council for its leadership and tenacity, both as a successful appellant against Northland Regional Council and Federated Farmers of NZ, but as a full member of the Northland/Auckland :Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options*".

© Scoop Media

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