All of Northern peninsula (land and sea) protected from GE/GMOs

GE-Free Northland

11 August 2020  Media release


All of Northern peninsula (land and sea) protected from GE/GMOs

"A bouquet for Northland Regional Council"


GE-Free Tai Tokerau welcomes the news that Northland Regional Council

has placed precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO wording into the new

Regional Plan. The Environment Court has accepted the addition, which

enabled Far North District Council and Whangarei District Council to

withdraw their joint appeal against NRC.


"Northland region's valuable agricultural, horticultural, apiculture,

fisheries, and forestry sectors (and "Northland, naturally" brand) must be

protected. Our valuable enterprises, access to key markets and

premiums would be put at risk if outdoor use of GMOs were permitted in

Northland. Some of the world's most celebrated food regions—Tuscany,

Provence, Bordeaux—are official GM Free Zones. That's the club we want

to be part of, and Northland and Auckland are well placed geographically

to achieve this distinction," said Zelka Grammer, chairperson, GE-Free Tai



The agreed wording by relevant parties (including the Soil & Health

Association Aotearoa and Iwi/ hapu in the rohe) will achieve the

sustainable management purpose of the Resource Management Act

(RMA) and give effect to the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement a

nd Regional Policy Statement for Northland (RPS). In particular, the

provisions give effect to the operative Northland RPS Policy 6.1.2, which

requires that a precautionary approach be adopted toward any

release of GMOs.


The restored GMO wording provides consistency with similar provisions in

the Whangarei and Far North District Plans, as well as with the Auckland

Unitary Plan. The agreed provisions also support the implementation of

Proposed Regional Plan Policy D.1.1 (4), which requires an assessment of

adverse effects on tangata whenua or their taonga when outdoor use of

GE or GMOs is proposed.


The Northland Regional Plan seeks to protect the CMA from adverse

effects associated with the use of GMOs. The policies provide such

protection by adopting a precautionary approach, encouraging adaptive

management, directing that effects be avoided, requiring bonds as a

condition of resource consents, and requiring a risk management plan for

field trials.

 "The council's decision is a victory for common sense and for the interests of all Northlanders concerned about the possible introduction of risky GMOs into the environment, whether they be plants, animals, insects or micro organisms," chairperson Zelka Grammer said.

"This is another win. If GMOs were to be trialled or released into the environment they would be very difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. There is also potential for serious economic loss to regions marketing their products and tourism under New Zealand's 'clean green' brand, if outdoor experimentation or release were permitted," said Ms. Grammer.


The NRC voted by a substantial majority to place precautionary and

prohibitive GE/GMO provisions in the Coastal Marine Area of the new

Regional Plan. The Council took action to foster sustainable and

integrated management, protection of our biosecurity and wider

environment, and our existing valuable GM free status, food sovereignty,

and cultural values. Council thereby ensured robust RMA processes

prevailed over politics.


Farmers and other primary producers can now feel confident their

livelihoods are protected. Raw materials from the Coastal Marine

environment (such as seaweed and fish products) and marine species will

also be protected from risky GE/GMO applications that might be lodged

with EPA bureaucrats in Wellington and "rubber stamped".


Action was and is needed by local councils to protect their biosecurity,

environment, as well as farmers and other ratepayers from outdoor use

of GE/GMOs because of significant deficiencies in the national legislation

(Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act) as identified by Local

Government NZ, many councils, and primary producers.


Deficiencies in HSNO include inadequate liability and no mandatory

requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor

GE/GMO applications. GMOs include risky controversial gene edited

organisms, shown in recent years to have unpredictable and undesirable

off-target adverse impacts.


Kudos also to Whangarei District Council and Far North District Council,

who worked in a collaborative and fiscally responsible manner, in keeping

with the wishes of local primary producers and other ratepayers, to lodge

the important joint appeal challenging NRC's flawed 2019 GE/GMO



Kaipara District Council (a formative member of the Northland/ Auckland

"Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation & Management

Options"* has wisely voted to progress a similar GE/GMO plan change as

WDC and FNDC, this will take place next year as part of the KDC review

of their District Plan.






Zelka Linda Grammer

chairperson, GE-Free Tai Tokerau (in food & environment)


022 309 5039

Dr. Benjamin Pittman

027 505 8705


Further background:

GE FREE NZ 13 August 2020 Media Release

"Protection from GMOs for Northland growers and exporters welcomed"

17 June 2020 GE FREE NZ Media Release

Precautionary GE/GMOs provisions welcome


"Victory for GMO opposition: Northland Regional Council votes to reverse position"

17 June 2020 Northern Advocate

GMO protesters celebrate a victory after NRC votes to reverse its no-provision position

"Council abandons its GMO decision"

Northland Age, 18 June 2020