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All councils should act on Northland's GE report

17 November 2005
All councils should act on Northland's GE report

A new report on local bodies' options for managing the risks from GMO releases should prompt councils nationwide to start factoring GE safeguards into their district plans, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options was commissioned by the Far North, Kaipara, Rodney and Whangarei District Councils and the Waitakere City Council. It was written by Simon Terry Associates and Mitchell Partnership and comes with a legal opinion by Dr Royden Somerville QC. The options considered were - making all GMO land uses discretionary activities, blanket prohibitions on all GMO land uses, and two combinations of those two approaches for various activities. All are local safeguards over and above those set by ERMA as the national regulator.

"I congratulate the northern councils for working together to get some sound advice on their powers to manage the risks from genetically engineered organisms," Ms Fitzsimons, the Greens' GE Spokesperson, says.

"I encourage councils throughout New Zealand to take this report on board and to start discussions now with their communities to gauge the level of concern and the specific local values that need protecting from any future GE release.

"Then they can start incorporating the outcomes of that consultation into their district plans. Councils need to have their rules in place before any applications for the release of GMOs are made. The huge public opposition to GE has bought them some time, but changes to district plans are slow because of the multiple formal stages of consultation required, so it would be best that they get on with it now.

"The Green Party remains opposed to any release of GMOs into New Zealand's environment or farming system. But the Government has chosen to set up a process where approvals are possible, so we believe that everything should be done to reduce the risks if such applications ever get consent.

"As part of our post-election cooperation agreement with Labour, the Green Party has secured a commitment that additional requirements for segregation will be developed to ensure the continued purity of GE-Free products. The Government has agreed with the Green Party that GE-free growers must be able to meet the demand of their markets - that their products be absolutely free of GE contamination. We look forward to starting work on this with the Government in the New Year." Ms Fitzsimons says.


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