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

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. Photo / Michael Cunningham

By: Julia Czerwonatis
Reporter for the Northern Advocate


Northland regional councillors have voted to reverse a decision not to include provisions to manage genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the council's proposed Regional Plan.

The latest turn of events in what has been a lengthy and contentious debate has seen Northland Regional Council (NRC) decide at its meeting yesterday to change its position on GMO provisions.

The move was welcomed by GMO opponents who attended the meeting, labelling it a "victory".

One of about 10 protesters, Nora Shayeb from the Northland Toxin Awareness Group, said there were "millions of reasons" to oppose the use of GMO.

She linked GMOs to the increased use of pesticides, which she described as harmful to the environment and humans.

"Most of our waterways are poisoned. Water is one of our most basic needs, but our water is making people sick," Shayeb said.

Another opponent, Social Credit party president Gloria Bruni, said New Zealand had "the outstanding opportunity to mark ourselves as uniquely sustainable".

"We'll compromise this if we introduce GMO into the region."

Supporters of old 2019 GE/GMO decision by Northland Regional Council withdraw

item from the Northland Age, 16 June 2020, prior to the NRC 16 June 2020 GE/GMO excellent decision later that day

this item for background information:


The Northland Age

"Supporters of council GE decision withdraw"


The Northland Regional Council now stands alone in not supporting the inclusion of GMO provisions in its proposed regional plan.

The NZ Life Sciences Network, Biotech NZ and Federated Farmers have withdrawn from the Environment Court case prompted by appeals against the decision from the Far North and Whangārei District Councils.

The appeals seek the inclusion of provisions to manage genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in the coastal marine area (CMA), which the council decided against last year, on the casting vote of then chairman Bill Shepherd.

The council will decide its next move today, the staff recommendation being to stick to its guns, strategic policy and planning manager Ben Lee saying that would not require a formal decision, given that that position was the status quo.

It was open to the council to change its position, he said, but a decision to do that should be based on sound resource management reasons. His recommendation was to maintain its decision not to include provisions in the plan, and that it actively defend that position in the Environment Court.

Lee's report stated that staff could not advise that the council should change its position, being constrained by the fact that their role was to defend its original decision.

Update: important GE/GMO decision made 16 June 2020 Northland Regional Council's full council meeting - excellent decision made!

Breaking news:

There was an important GE/GMO agenda item at the Northland Regional Council full council meeting (Tuesday 16 June 2020)

An excellent motion was passed, supporting precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions in the proposed new Regional Plan (in the Coastal Marine Area). Well done NRC!

An email to the NRC chair Penny Smart and Clrs Joce Yeoman, Jack Craw, Martin Robinson, Colin Toss Kitchen, Amy McDonald, Justin Blaikie thanking them for their vote would be very timely.

Contact details for all NRC clrs here (NRC Clrs Rick Stolwerk and John Bain voted for the status quo, which is disappointing. but they were in the minority :)



GE Free Northland (in food & environment) June / July 2020
GE Free Northland became a s274 (interested) party in support of Whangarei District Council and Far North District Council's appeal against Northland Regional Council, due to the NRC's controversial 16 July 2019 GE/GMOs decision ( to exclude all precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions from the proposed new Regional Plan for Northland).  

Northland Regional Council to take "back seat" on GMO appeal

notice how NRC Clr Martin Robinson has ethically stood aside, given his conflict of interest (Martin is both a Regional councillor for Northern Coastal Ward and spokesperson GE Free Northland) but how former NRC Chairman Bill Shepherd did NOT stand aside last year when he was Chair of NRC when it came to the vote on GE/GMO issue... despite Mr. Shepherds conflict of interest as a Federated Farmers of NZ man


GE Free Northland seeks fighting funds

Northland Age

22 August 2019

by Peter Jackson


GE Free Northland is appealing for financial support for its legal challenge against the Northland Regional Council's decision to exclude precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions from its proposed regional plan.

"In our view the NRC has failed to make a sound decision on the GE/GMOs issue, despite the scientific, economic and cultural evidence presented by submitters supporting provisions to control the adverse effects of GMO use on the environment through the plan," chair Linda Grammer said.

"We will join the Whangārei District Council and Far North District Council in seeking relief in the Environment Court against the NRC.

"With help we can ensure strong precautionary and prohibitive GMO provisions are placed in the new regional plan.


Conservationists dispute genetic modification rule (by NRC) in Northland

Flawed Northland Regional Council decision bound for court

23 July 2019

Northland Age

by editor Peter Jackson


"Flawed Northland Regional Council decision bound for court"

Northland Regional Council chairman Bill Shepherd's use of his casting vote to break a 4-4 deadlock over the issue of whether or not to include provisions for the management of genetically modified organisms in the council's proposed regional plan has outraged critics of the technology, who have vowed to fight it in court.

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