Comvita adds voice to GE trials caution
By John Cousins Bay of Plenty Times
8:30 AM Friday Nov 29, 2013
Cultural consultant Buddy Mikaere is standing for a tougher council stance on genetic engineering.
One of the Bay's biggest exporters Comvita has backed moves to single out genetic engineering as deserving a "precautionary approach" by the region's environmental watchdog.
The Paengaroa-based company joined seven others in the Environment Court yesterday to fight a bid by the New Zealand Forest Research Institute (Scion) to stop the the Bay of Plenty Regional Council adopting a cautionary stance toward GE field trials.
Comvita, whose honey exports of $80 million rely on New Zealand's clean green image, has highlighted the huge financial impact if a GE organism was released into the environment.
Scientists, activists, orchardists, organic farmers and Maori culture united to support the council which wants to signal its concern about the risks from genetic modification trials in its regional policy statement.
Scion has challenged the validity of the council singling out genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as warranting a precautionary approach.
But the council stopped short of elevating GMOs to a "matter of significance" which would have had a flow-on effect into its planning documents by the introduction of specific rules.