GE Free Northland Press Release

2 July 2014

GE FREE Northland welcomes the news that Far North District Council and Whangarei District Council voted unanimously last week to jointly publicly notify the GMO Plan Change to ban all GMO releases and make any EPA approved outdoor GE experiments/ field trials a Discretionary activity (subject to additional local requirements that the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act does not require).

"This process is in keeping with the proposed collaborative GMO Plan change with Auckland Council, who has already begun the process through the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan," said Martin Robinson, spokesman for GE Free Northland.

The member councils of the Northland/ Auckland "Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options" are acting in a cost effective manner to introduce the plan change and defend any legal challenge.

The northern Councils have acted in keeping with the wishes of the majority of Northland and Auckland residents and ratepayers, to create a much needed additional local tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

"The President of Local Government NZ, Lawrence Yule, recognizes and agrees with councils taking steps to create an additional local tier of protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs because their ratepayers want a more precautionary approach than central government requires," added Mr. Robinson.
The work undertaken by local councils on behalf of their farmers and other ratepayers is necessary given serious deficiencies in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. These deficiencies include a lack of strict liability under the HSNO Act and no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor GE experiments and releases. 

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

This is a great example of local councils working together collaboratively for the good of the wider region.  It is critical that local authorities jurisdiction and local democratic process is respected by central government.
We thank FNDC and WDC for acting on their duty of care to their constituents, the environment and our economy.


Martin Robinson, spokesperson GE Free Northland in food & environment
09  407 8650
Zelka Linda Grammer, Chairperson GE Free Northland
09 432 2155

The 2009 independent Colmar Brunton GE poll (commissioned by the member councils of the Northland/ Auckland "Inter Council Working Party on GMO  Risk Evaluation & Management Options" showed that

  • all communities from Auckland to Cape Reinga 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 64% to 72% for individual councils.
  • support for local regulation is strongest amongst Maori, particularly in the Northland region.
  • support for local regulation was 72% in Northland (85% amongst Maori)

See also

Overwhelming Support for Local Decisions on GM Free Status: National Poll

2 December 2013  Press Release  PURE HAWKE'S BAY