May 2015

GE or not GE? Environment Court win- A victory for democracy

GE or not GE? A victory for democracy

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Zealanders can take heart that it is now confirmed that regional councils have the right to make planning decisions about the outdoor use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their regions. Environment Court Judge Newhook determined yesterday that there is jurisdiction under the Resource Management Act for regional councils to make provision for GMOs through regional policy statements and plans.
“We welcome this as a victory for sound resource management,” said Marion Thomson, co-chair of the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand. “The decision confirms our view that the RMA allows local bodies to manage any potential use of GMOs as part of their land use (resource management) planning function.”
The case was brought by Federated Farmers of NZ, who had lodged an appeal with the Environment Court opposing precautionary provisions for GMOs in the Proposed Northland Regional Policy Statement. Soil & Health and GE Free Northland coordinated a group of 12 other interested parties in support of Whangarei District Council and Northland Regional Council in the Environment Court last month.
As a starting point, Federated Farmers challenged whether there is jurisdiction for local authorities to make provisions for the management of the outdoor use of GMOs under the RMA. That challenge has now been rejected by the Environment Court.