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More Councils Call To Extend GE Moratorium

Government "out of touch" as councils call for GE moratorium extension

Porirua Council is adding its name to a growing list of local authorities calling on the government to extend the GE moratorium in response to public concerns. Last week Whangarei District Council and the Far North District Council went public with a similar call, and other councils are considering their position on the issue.

There is growing concern across the country that the government is out of touch with the public and the many local communities concerned to preserve GE-Free production.

On Saturday thousands of people are expected to march in support of extending the GE moratorium despite government statements that nothing will change their policy to release GE through the ERMA system for approval.

See: Press Release: Porirua supports extending moratorium

The Porirua City Council says it does not support the commercial release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment and supports an extension of the moratorium until the effects and implications of such a release are known.

A motion to this affect was passed by a healthy majority of Councillors at a Council meeting last night.

Those for the motion were: Councillors Tracey Waters, Nick Leggett, Sue Dow, Maureen Gillon, Robert Shaw, Litea Ah Hoi, Bud Lavery and Mayor Jenny Brash.

Those against were Deputy Mayor Kevin Watson and Councillors David Stanley and Naureen Palmer. Councillors Jasmine Underhill and John Green abstained and Councillor Ken Douglas was overseas and did not attend the meeting.

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A letter outlining Council's position on GE will be sent to Prime Minister Helen Clark today.

Councillor Waters, who initiated the motion, was ecstatic, saying Councils around the country had a role to play in representing the views of residents to Central Government.

"Our clean green image is admired internationally (and) we need to protect our current markets." The Royal Commission (into genetically engineered organisms) said there was no market for genetically modified foods and polls had shown that 68% of New Zealanders were also concerned about the release of GE organisms from laboratories.

"It is up to Councils to look at these sorts of issues…We need to protect the community from potential clean up bills."

Mayor Brash said she was concerned that once the "genie was out of the bottle we won't be able to put it back. There was no such thing as a safe buffer zone."

Councillor Shaw said the new Local Government Act made clear that local government could get involved in such issues. "We can also make changes to the District Plan (to control GE activities)."

Councillor Watson said he agreed with 90% of what Councillor Waters had to say but "if we can produce pine trees with more wood than pine cones, then we should." He too was "scared of eating GE in food," however.

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