Visiting GE-free advocate leaves a cautionary message: protect your primary producers


Visiting GE-free advocate leaves a cautionary message: protect your primary producers


by Gerard Hindmarsh

Northland-based horticulturalist and GE-free lobbyist, Zelka Grammer, recently spent three weeks tramping her way through the backblocks of Kahurangi, coming out in Golden Bay to replenish her supplies and deliver a strong message to anyone that would listen:

Start protecting your organic and conventional primary producers by insisting TDC place a ban on land use involving genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


It’s not just hot air.

Zelka and her GE-Free Northland colleagues were instrumental in convincing nine Northland and Auckland councils to form the Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Options, whose core function is protecting the regions’ existing (and what many perceive as valuable) GM-free status.

"The next step," says a confident Zelka, will be the implementation of a Regional Exclusion Zone for GMOs. It’s akin to what Golden Bay and Waiheke Island councils did in the late 1970s, when they declared themselves ‘Nuclear Free.’ People laughed back then, but that one became arguably one of this country’s most popular policies."

Zelka says the investigations on genetic engineering undertaken by local authorities in North Auckland and Northland were prompted by widespread community concerns over the potential release of GMOs into the environment.

"In the case of Whangarei District Council, the submissions it received on GE were the highest for any single issue during consultation on its Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP), and then there was an 8,000-strong petition as well. This is a big deal issue and people care about it. Other councils have taken a symbolic stand on the issue. Look at Nelson, the first GE-free city to be declared, on 5th April, 2001. TDC is way behind on the issue. Central government agencies and Crown Research Institutes continue to stuff up. Residents have a right to demand no GMOs on their patch."

Zelka, who earlier this year broke the story on Ingham’s-not-so-GE-free chickens, is a member of the Green Party, Rural Women and Federated Mountain clubs as well as Forest and Bird.

She likes to quote John Seymour, who compared the invasion of Ireland by Monsanto’s "genetically mutilated" crops to Britain’s invasion by William the Conqueror’s Norman army, and saw it as his duty to resist.

In 1999, ending up in court at the age of 84 as one of the Arthurstown Seven after they destroyed Monsanto’s GE sugar beet field trial, Seymour said:

"If I have to go to prison because of it then I will go with a good will, and make the best of it, and when I get out I will try to stop them again!"

Gerard Hindmarsh

What can you do?

Contact: Dr Kerry Grundy (Chairman/Co-ordinator of the Inter-Council Working Party on GMOs) to send key policy documents, reports and legal opinions commissioned by the ICWP on GMOs to your local councillor and manager for policy (environment) at TDC (Steve Markham).


Freephone: 0 800 932 463 GE Free Northland


GE free NZ (Head Office: Nelson)

Email Susie Lees: