Northland communities want stricter GE controls

GE FREE NORTHLAND in food and environment

3 July 2013       Press Release    

Northland communities want stricter GE controls

GE Free Northland welcomes the stance taken by Local Government NZ and Northland District Councils, in response to the recent announcement by Environment Minister Amy Adams that she will change the law to stop councils restricting the outdoor use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in their local areas.

“We are pleased to see that the President of Local Government,  Lawrence Yule, recognizes that councils have taken steps to create an additional tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs because their ratepayers want a more precautionary approach than central government requires,” said GE Free Northland spokesperson Martin Robinson.

The work undertaken by local councils on behalf of their farmers and other ratepayers is necessary given serious deficencies in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, including a lack of strict liablity and no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to GE experiments and releases.

Councils in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, and Hawke's Bay have responded wisely to on-going concerns about GMOs by their constituents, by investigating the risks posed by GMOs in the environment, and how they can best minimize these risks.

“We find it offensive that Amy Adams is recommending in 2013 that our local councils lobby the EPA about their concerns about the inadequacies of the HSNO Act..  Our councils and Local Government NZ have lobbied central government extensively, both during and after the 2003 New Organisms and other Matters Bill, and central government has shown no inclination to properly amend HSNO to provide the level of protection local communities require,” said Zelka Grammer, Chairperson GE free Northland.

Rookie Minister Amy Adams made remarks last week that make no sense in the context of the 5 August 2013 written response her colleague (former Minister for the Environment Nick Smith) gave to the June 2010 letter from all the member councils of the Northland/ Auckland “Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options.”

Dr. Smith's response to the ICWP on GMOs clearly states:

"Decisions on whether to approve a GMO are best undertaken by the independent, quasi-judicial body,the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). However, this does not preclude a council from restricting or preventing the use of GMOs in their region, provided that this action meets the relevant requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA)."

Ms Adams is buying a fight with communities and growers by saying she will block councils from banning GE crops.

“It is of concern that the Minister Amy Adams has made a number of factually incorrect statements, and is acting in defiance of public opinion, going against the advice of the previous minister and common sense,” said Martin Robinson.

GE Free Northland supports our local councils who back local democracy and the rights of non GM farmers.  Ratepayers and taxpayers want stricter controls on outdoor use of GMOs than those set by central government.

The controls that councils are putting in place would place the responsibility, accountability, and liability on the person or company growing the crops, which is where it should be.

The challenge for councils now is to defend the public interest, our biosecurity, environment, primary producers and economy- and place methods, policies and rules controlling or banning GMOs in local plans.

GE FREE NORTHLAND applauds the commitment of local District Councils and the Auckland Unitary authority to address the GE issue, as central government continues to ignore the concerns of many eminent scientists, territorial authorities and our key markets, as well as the majority of New Zealanders,.

More information:

Martin Robinson            09 407 8650  (Kerikeri)
Zelka Linda Grammer    09 432 2155  (Whangarei)

Background information:

-Mr Yule, Mayor of Hastings District Council, said his council wants a 10-year moratorium on GE to give Hawke's Bay food and wine an advantage in export markets.

Communities want 'stricter' GE controls 28 June 2013 Radio NZ interview

-members of the Northland /Auckland “ICWP on GMOs” include Whangarei, Kaipara, Far North District Councils, Northland Regional Council and Auckland Council

-to view the 2010 correspondence between Dr. Nick Smith and  Northland/ Auckland ICWP on GMOs) see “GMO Reports”

-the results of the ICWP on GMOs commissioned independent Colmar Brunton poll (2009) on GE show that

 1. all communities strongly favour making users of GMOs legally responsible for any economic or environmental harm that may result. Support for regulation to make users of GMOs strictly liable for any harm caused ranged from 63% to 72% for individual councils.  

 2. strong support for councils to have a role in regulating GMOs (this could include outright prohibition) ranging from 66% to 75% for individual councils
 3. support for local regulation is strongest among Maori, particularly in the Northland region

- The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Modification 2001 recommendation 13.1 stated that the methodology for implementing the Hazardous substances and New Organisms Act should ‘ Allow for specified categories of GM crops to be excluded from districts where their presence would be a significant threat to a established non GMO crop use.’

-Part 2: Regional Policy Statement

- Sustainably Managing our Natural Resources

-Community Management of GMO’s III

Further background:

NZ Herald 24 June 2013 ""Stricter rules for GMOs - working party"

NZ Herald 26 June 2013  “Adams to block councils from own rules”

GE FREE NZ Press Release 27 June 2013