Press Release 1 April 2010



GE FREE Northland welcomes the news that Northland Regional Council (NRC) and Far North District Council (FNDC) have voted to join the other member councils of the "Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Options" in making a last ditch effort this year to further lobby central government to amend the flaws in the HSNO Act.

The vote took place at the last full council meeting of FNDC (25 March) and the 17 March 2010 meeting of the NRC Environment Management Committee.

The NRC vote was unanimous, gaining the support not of only councillors but of a cross-section of interested parties from Northland.

"This is a timely decision. We await only Auckland Regional Councils decision on April 20 this year," said GE FREE NORTHLAND Chairman Martin Robinson.

The Court of Appeal has overturned last year’s High Court decision against AgResearch, which wants conditional release of transgenic animals in undisclosed locations in the North Island.

"It is all the more critical that local councils do everything they can to get much needed changes into the HSNO Act. This includes a truly strict liability regime," said Mr Robinson.

The Chairman of the NRC Environmental Management committee, Cr Craig Brown has voiced his concerns.

"While I’m very pleased with the NRC’s decision, I am of the opinion that if this persistent lobbying of central government continues to be unsuccessful in persuading government to take the appropriate action… that the regional council and territorial authorities of Northland need to put strong precautionary measures in their District Plans, the Regional Plan and RPS."

"Central government has demonstrated that it does not know best regarding the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There have been too many instances of inadequate information supplied in GMO applications to ERMA, breaches of the conditions of approval for GMO experiments by NZ Crown Research Institutes and alarming failures by MAF to monitor such activities. "

"This is disheartening and reinforces my view that an additional tier of protection should be put in place on a local level to protect our biosecurity, economy, and primary producers".

GE FREE NORTHLAND spokeswoman Zelka Grammer said "We cannot rely on central government agencies like ERMA and MAF/Biosecurity NZ to protect our patch. Good on all the Northern councils for listening to the concerns of their constituents."

"This decision justifies and lends credence to the work the ICWP on GMOs is undertaking on behalf of ratepayers and primary producers in the Northland/Auckland region."

Craig Brown, Chairman of the NRC Environment Committee also commented that "this is a further instance of those in the position to do a proper job to safeguard us are failing in their duty of care. This adds to the growing disquiet of the average person and reinforces the need for all local councils to work collaboratively together to protect our biosecurity, economy, and environment.

"This is a classic example of how local councils can take the lead in representing the views of New Zealanders and can best protect their interests. The Colmar Brunton poll on GMOs, conducted last November, clearly showed that more than 70% of Northlanders support some type of local regulation of GMO land use."

GE FREE NORTHLAND shares the concerns of Local Government NZ and local authorities about the significant deficiencies in the national regulatory regime for GMOs.

"We would like to see either GMO land use prohibited in Northland/Auckland peninsula or the moratorium on GE field trials/releases reinstated," said its spokesperson Zelka Grammer.

"In our view, strong ‘rules with teeth’ regarding GMO land use are needed in the District Plan, Regional Plan and/or Regional Policy Statement to ensure our region retains the economic and environmental advantage of being GM free," said Ms. Grammer.

"We stress that the Northland/Auckland peninsula is ideally placed geographically to achieve this distinction. It would minimise the economic, environmental, public health and liability exposures from GE release and experiments.

This requires urgent attention, given the intentions of AgResearch to experiment with GE animals on a whatever, wherever, whenever basis as shown in their recent applications to ERMA. ENDS


Zelka Grammer, Spokesperson 09 4322155 Whangarei

Martin Robinson, Chairperson 09 407 8650 Kerikeri

GE FREE NORTHLAND (in Food & Environment)