NO to Genetic Engineering

NO to Genetic Engineering

("Our Town" column)


Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth

in the Whangarei Report, Thursday 28 April 2011


A constant theme of my mayoralty is that Council needs to listen to the people. A prime example of the will of the people making itself felt is over the controversial issue of genetic engineering.

GE is the 'most-submitted' issue WDC has ever had, attracting over 7,000 submissions of which around 90% were in favour of ensuring Whangarei District remains GE free. Council has heard what people have said and supported it. Last week we voted unanimously to investigate regulating genetically modified organisms through the District Plan in conjunction with other councils in Northland and Auckland. This will most likely mean that releases of GMOs will be prohibited and resource consents will be needed for GE trials in Northland and Auckland.

I am delighted that I have come to Council at this epic point in an eight year journey, where in essence we are saying 'no!' to genetic engineering. Before I was elected to Council I didn't have a strong view one way or the other about GE, but since I have become more involved I have met many people who are passionate about it. After listening to their stories about what can go wrong - often at a very real and personal level - I can understand their passion and I am glad we are able to do something practical at last. And just as importantly, Whangarei and Northland are being seen as taking the lead in an important national and international issue.

Cheers for the WDC- saying NO to GE

Cheers for the WDC- saying NO to GE

           Whangarei councillors have unanimously, and historically, rejected the outdoor use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Whangarei District.  WDC is asking other Northland councils to join in a collaborative plan change, to ban all GMOs in our region (a wise move considering that at any moment, a big multinational like Monsanto or Crown Research Institutes can apply for GE experiments or releases on our patch, without being liable for harm caused).



Steps closer to a GMO ban



Denise Piper


Cheers and claps supported Whangarei district councillors as they made a move to ban genetically modified organisms in the district.

At an environment committee meeting last Wednesday councillors unanimously voted to investigate regulating GMOs through the district plan.

The regulation is likely to prohibit releases of GMOs to the environment and requiring resource consents for GE trials.

Whangarei is the first council to agree to regulation but it hopes it will be joined by other councils in Northland and Auckland who are part of the Inter-council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options.

That would mean the costs can be shared. But councillor Crichton Christie says the council will go it alone if necessary.

"This has been eight years in the making. At the end of the day this is about managing the risk that this council has over genetic engineering – it is not about whether you agree with GE or not," he says.

"It would be nice if the other councils came with us but if not we still have to manage the risk."

Environment Minister Nick Smith has confirmed the costs of environmental damage from a GMO release gone wrong could rest with the council and neighbouring property owners.




letters to editor:




by Denise Piper

l4 April 2011


A grassroots movement against Genetically Modified Organisms could start in Northland, activists say.

Councils can now restrict or prevent the outdoor use of Genetically Modified Organisms under the Resource Management Act.

Clarification from Environment Minister Nick Smith means GMOs could be banned entirely if the community wants.

Previously councils were warned that if they got involved in controlling the organisms they could assume some of the liability for any future problems caused by GMOs.

The Northland Regional and Whangarei District Councils are part of an Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options.

The Working Party has now commissioned a report to identify the optimal wording for any rules in the council's District Plans or Regional Policy Statements.

Working Party Chairman Dr. Kerry Grundy will be giving Whangarei councillors more information at their Environment Committee meeting tomorrow.

GE Free Northland spokeswoman Zelka Grammer says there is an opportunity for Whangarei and Northland to lead the rest of the country agains GMOs- the same way New Zealand's nuclear free movement started at a community level.

The situation in Japan shows that there is are damn good reasons why there's prohibition of nuclear reactors and I would say there's damn good reasons to prohibit GMOs.


GE FREE NORTHLAND (in food and environment) Annual General Meeting


Monday, l4 March 2011-  at 7pm

Venue:  Eco Solutions, 3a Bank St, Whangarei

(opposite the Whangarei bus depot & the Grand Hotel)


Have your Say: Northland Regional Council "New Regional Policy Statement Discussion Document 2010"




Northland Regional Council "New Regional Policy Statement Discussion Document 2010"

(part of the NRC "Regional Policy Statement" Review) 25 November 2010

The Northland Regional Council is developing a new Regional Policy Statement (RPS), which happens once every ten years. The NRC has just released its "New RPS Discussion Document 2010" (you can obtain a hard copy by ringing or emailing the council and have your say to help shape Northland’s future).

The NRC says it wants to "improve the management of Northland’s natural and physical resources (land, water, air, soil, minerals, energy, all plants and animals, and all built structures)" but, if we want to ensure we get sound environmental provisions in our RPS, that means we have to engage and participate right now in order to influence the outcome.

This is especially necessary as we have already identified inaccurate and misleading content in the "Biodiversity/Ecosystems" section of the "New RPS Discussion Document 2010", specifically about GE/GMOs and the important liability issue.

GE Free Northland has done a detailed analysis of this and put together some key points on the GE issue to make it easy for submittors to give their feedback to the NRC regarding Genetically Modified Organisms, supporting a strong prohibitive provision in the RPS. This is a great opportunity to put forward a good case for sound environmental, economic and biosecurity outcomes in the Regional Policy Statement, which then the Northland territorial authorities will have to give effect to through their District plans.



Crown entity 'cowboys' irk GE opponents



Lindy Laird Monday 23rd August 2010

A spokesperson for GE Free Northland says state-owned "cowboys" with a bad track record are trying to ride roughshod over a Northland council.

Zelka Grammer has voiced her concerns after the crown research institute Plant and Food Research lodged an "11th hour" cross-submission to the Kaipara District Council's District Plan.

Plant and Food's submission argued that a district council should not be involved in decision-making about GE.

It also described as "invalid" the local submissions calling for GE policy to be written into the district plan.

Plant and Food's timing gave parties who had made submissions on the topic no time to lodge cross submissions.

Local submissions asked for the existing precautionary GE policy be set in law, and for liability for any problems caused by GE experiments to fall on the applicants. Kaipara's precautionary GE policy is already in the council's 2009/19 Long Term Council Community Plan (TCCP) and Annual Plan 2010/ll.

Ms Grammer said Plant and Food's last-minute cross submission was both inappropriate and misleading.

"A New Zealand crown research institute with such an appalling track record of botched GE experiments should understand full well why local authorities are considering putting in place additional safeguards against genetically modified organisms," she said.



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."

GE Free Northland action alert: submission period now closed! in response to Northland Regional Council's proposed Regional Plan

GE Free Northland action alert:
submissions needed on GE/GMO issue in response to Northland Regional Council's proposed New Regional Plan

GE Free Northland action alert: submissions needed on GE/GMO issue in response to proposed Northland Regional Plan

GE Free Northland action alert:
submissions needed on GE/GMO issue in response to Northland Regional Council's proposed New Regional Plan
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