Hawke's Bay food producers win genetic modification free battle


HAWKE'S BAY TODAY  3 August 2018

Hawke's Bay food producers win genetic modification free battle

The battle to keep the Hastings District GM-Free has been won.

In 2015 the Hastings District Council became the first in New Zealand to secure a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)-free status, but the decision was appealed by Federated Farmers through the Environment Court.

The recent ruling upheld the council's decision to prohibit the outdoor release and field trials of GMOs.

The decision was welcomed by both the council and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc who have worked closely to protect and safeguard the environment.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said that a Colmar Brunton poll conducted in 2012 showed that 84 per cent of Hawke's Bay residents surveyed wanted the region to have a GM-free status for its food production.

"We are delighted with this outcome that supports our growers, our people and local iwi in the common desire to protect our environment and give our region a strong marketing advantage when promoting our products for export.

"It positions us to grow our regional economy and create jobs as well as ensure safe farming practices and food safety.

"As a council we heard the message loud and clear from the wider community that they have supported GM-free food production for Hastings, and this decision is a positive result that we have been able to bring about through our planning processes."

Pure Hawke's Bay chairman and sheep and beef farmer Bruno Chambers said it was a "very exciting win after many years of unnecessary battle".

"We have worked seven years to capture this opportunity for Hastings and the region. Being GM-free gives us a competitive advantage to market our high-end agricultural productions internationally.

Many regions around the world are officially GM-free. Finally we can join them rather than be in their wake."

One of New Zealand's largest growers and exporters and a member of Pure Hawke's Bay, John Bostock, said the win was huge for everyone in Hawke's Bay.

"Some of the world's most celebrated food regions - Tuscany, Province, Bordeaux - are officially GM-free. That's the world we want to be a part of," he said.

"This is an opportunity to promote Hawke's Bay internationally with real credibility. Hawke's Bay is the Tuscany of New Zealand and now we can promote ourselves on par-as a premium growing region."

Bostock said overseas demand for GM-free products continued to grow and Hastings' position created real opportunities in competitive high-end markets.

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne could not be reached for comment