GM stance praised (Whangarei District Council takes action to stop GMO land use)

GM stance praised

Last updated 09:27 21/03/2013


Kerikeri Bay Chronicle


Jubilation is the word used by GE Free Northland, in response to a Whangarei District Council stand against genetically modified organisms on its land.

The council voted unanimously this month to act on the recommendations of the Inter Council Working Party on GMO risk evaluation and management options.

The working party found national legislation on GMOs to be inadequate, in regard to liability and the precautionary principle.

"Farmers and other primary producers need their councils to be proactive on this important issue . . . key markets have sent us a very strong message - they will not accept even trace contamination of GMOs," GE Free Northland chairwoman Zelka Grammer says.

Northland cannot rely on central government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry for Primary Industries to protect the region, GE Free spokesman Martin Robinson of Kerikeri says.

"Local authorities have jurisdiction regarding the outdoor use of GMOs and a duty of care to protect their ratepayers and the environment from uninsurable short and long-term harm from GMOs."

Mr Robinson says there is no requirement under current legislation for "polluter pays" to ensure companies causing unintended or unforeseen adverse impacts from GE crops or GE animals are held responsible.

"Potential for accidental damage includes transgenic contamination of soil and waterways, the emergence of herbicide resistant "super weeds", increased herbicide and pesticide use, contamination of existing non-GM primary producers," Mr Robinson says.

"There is also a strong potential for serious economic loss to regions marketing their products and tourism under New Zealand's global clean-green brand, if GMO land use is permitted," he says.

Mr Robinson is calling for the Northland Regional Council to support the recommendations of the working party.

"This would support the wishes of Northland district councils and iwi authorities, and take Northland one step closer to an enforceable ban on release of GMOs.

"The Northland/Auckland peninsula is seen as ideally placed geographically to achieve the distinction, which would minimise the economic, environmental, public health and liability exposures from GE experiments and releases."