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Widespread Support for Protection Against GE

"Widespread Support for Protection Against GE Triggers Legal Appeal"

GE Free Northland welcomed the news yesterday of Whangarei District Council's unanimous vote to lodge an appeal with the Environment Court against Northland Regional Council over its recent decision on genetic engineering (Genetically Modified Organisms).

"WDC has done the community proud, responding admirably to the controversial NRC decision to exclude all precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions from the proposed new Regional Plan for Northland," said Martin Robinson, spokesperson for GE Free Northland.

GE Free Northland announced it will join WDC in legal action.

"In our view, the NRC has failed to make a sound decision on the critically important GE/GMOs issue, despite the scientific, economic, and cultural evidence presented by submitters supporting provisions to control the adverse effects of GMO use on the environment through the Plan. We will join WDC in seeking relief in the Environment Court against NRC," said Mr. Robinson.

The NRC decision was passed by one vote, the casting vote of the chair, despite strong community and submitter support for a precautionary approach to GMOs, and clear direction for precautionary wording (already in the operative Regional Policy Statement for Northland).

"We thank the Mayor and all councillors for acting on your duty of care to local farmers, primary producers and other constituents, as well as our environment and biosecurity," said Zelka Grammer, chairperson GE Free Northland.

"WDC continues to demonstrate leadership on the important GE/GMO issue, in the face of NRC's recent decision and the significant risks posed by outdoor use of GMOs" said Ms. Grammer.

"The process followed by NRC regarding the GE/GMO issue has been highly controversial, and angered many Northlanders. We consider there has been a lack of transparency which was exacerbated by the failure to appoint independent commissioners to consider the GMO issue under the Regional Plan for Northland," said Ms. Grammer.

WDC Mayor Sheryl Mai put forward the motion for WDC to lodge an appeal against NRC, with WDC Councillor Anna Murphy seconding.

WDC Councillor and retired farmer Phil Halse strongly supported the motion, stressing that "we need to have strong precautionary GMO provisions in the new Regional Plan," and "we don't want people coming into our district or wider region to experiment with GMOs, buggering off when there are unintended adverse impacts or GMO contamination, and leaving us to clean up the mess."
Councillor Halse's comments were met with delight from those in the public gallery.

"We urge Far North District Council to work collaboratively with WDC and other interested parties (including local mana whenua and farmers) in this legal challenge to NRC, as FNDC has successfully done in the past*, regarding the Regional Policy Statement for Northland," said Zelka Grammer.

"Northland region's valuable agricultural, horticultural, apiculture, pastoral, forestry sector, and "Northland, naturally" brand must be protected (as Auckland Council has already achieved in its region)."

"Our community group will seek relief against NRC via legal action through the courts in order to protect the regions biosecurity, unique biodiversity, existing GM free primary producers, economy, and valuable existing GE free status. We support precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions, policies, and objectives in the new Regional Plan for both land and the Coastal Marine Area," said Ms. Grammer.

[ENDS]

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