GE-Free Northland

1 November 2017 Media release

GE-Free Northland, hundreds of Northland primary producers, and other submitters are celebrating the decision by Federated Farmers of NZ (FFNZ) to finally abandon its crusade to force Northland Regional Council to remove sound precautionary GE/GMO provisions from the Northland Regional Policy Statement.

FFNZ filed its latest appeal earlier this year in the Court of Appeal, after losing in both the Environment Court (2015) and the High Court (2016).

Northland councils and communities are confident (now that the jurisdictional issue has been settled) that our valuable existing GE free status will be retained, from the Bombay Hills north to Cape Reinga.

Whangarei District Council and a broad range of interested parties including GE Free Northland, Tai Tokerau mana whenua, Far North District Council, and the Soil & Health Association have secured local authorities' right to manage the outdoor use of GMOs in their regions.

The parties standing behind appellant Whangarei District Council combined with robust existing case law (the unequivocal decisions of both Principal Environment Court Judge Newhook in 2015 and Justice Mary Peters in the High Court last year), and recent amendments made to the RMA (confirming the High court ruling) led FFNZ to the view that they "are likely to have materially reduced the prospects of the appeal being prosecuted successfully."

Parliament confirmed last April that local councils can regulate or ban outdoor use of GMOs under the RMA, in keeping with the wishes of farmers and other ratepayers. Our ability to establish GM-free producing zones under local plans has been shielded by the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017, with the Maori Party and all other political parties refusing to support the former governments push to destroy enforceable GE free zones.

"With the withdrawal of FFNZ's appeal on the jurisdictional issue and enforceable GE-free zones protected under the RMA, councils across New Zealand are now free to act on their duty of care to their constituents and the environment, putting in place a much needed additional tier of local protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs," said Martin Robinson, GE Free Northland spokesperson.

"While happy that FFNZ have withdrawn their appeals against the Northland RPS, we hope that they will now support their hard working members in producing exports that add value to and protect New Zealand’s clean, green, GE-free image. In our view, FFNZ not only wasted their own members' hard earned money and resources, but Northland councils' and ratepayers' time and money as well," said Mr. Robinson.

Zelka Grammer, chairperson GE-Free Northland added "We urge Federated Farmers to withdraw their other outstanding vexatious appeals against the Whangarei District Council and Far North District Council excellent collaborative GMO plan changes*, the Auckland Unitary Plan, and the Hastings District Plan in Hawke's Bay.”

"The right of the regions to create enforceable GE-free Zones and to protect primary producers' access to key markets and premiums must be protected," said Grammer. "We thank Whangarei District Council for it's leadership and tenacity, both as an successful appellant against FFNZ and as a member of the Northland/Auckland Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management Options.

Fonterra, Beef & Lamb NZ, Dairy NZ, Zespri, Pure Hawke's Bay, Local Government NZ, various councils, primary producers, and many others called for protection against Wellington imposing risky GE experiments or field trials in the regions.

"We welcome the sound policies of the new government, with Labour, NZ First and the Green Party all committed to protecting our biosecurity, existing non-GM primary producers, our economy, wider environment, and the right of the regions to choose," said Martin Robinson. "We ask the relevant Ministers to ensure that border enforcement of NZ's 'Zero Tolerance Policy' (for any GE content in imported seeds) is adequately resourced."



Martin Robinson

Spokesperson, GE Free Tai Tokerau

09 407 8650

022 136 9619



Zelka Linda Grammer

022 309 5039


*Whangarei District Council PC# 131   Far North District Council PC# 18


Further information:


"A win for clean, green, GE-Free New Zealand"

Soil & Health Association Aotearoa NZ 

31 October 2017 Media release


Court of Appeal case Northland new RPS (GE/GMOs)

CA541/2016: Federated Farmers of NZ Inc v Northland Regional Council

(now withdrawn)


Further background:

Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017


"Progress for GM Free Regions"

Pure Hawkes Bay 5 April 2017 Media release


GE Free Northland 9 April 2017 Media release

"GE Free Zone Victory Against Nick Smith's Arrogant Power Grab"


Case law- Environment Court and High Court cases


"Protecting our Democratic Right to be GE Free"

GE Free Northland and the Soil & Health Association

13 June 2015 Media release

In May 2015, Principal Envirionment Court Judge L. Newhook found that there is jurisdiction under the Resource Management Act for regional councils to make planning decisions about the outdoor use of GMOs in their regions.


High Court

Soil & Health Association and GE Free Northland 31 August 2016 Media release

"High Court ruling on GE a win for Democracy"