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New Zealand councils discuss regulations for local GE crop managementqrcode

Aug. 12, 2011

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Aug. 12, 2011
GE Free Northland members are delighted by news the supercity's Auckland Council and Far North District Council have made a commitment to collaborate with the Whangarei District Council in investigating some type of regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

At least three councils are now set to investigate a plan change and section 32 analysis of GMOs, because of the risks to biosecurity, environment, economy, and the livelihoods of non-GM primary producers.

Kaipara District Council and Northland Regional Council will shortly vote on whether they will join in this important work, in keeping with their official precautionary GE policies.

There is sustained concern in Northland and other parts of New Zealand, about genetic engineering (GE) experiments and releases particularly in view of documented adverse impacts of GMOs overseas.

"Nonetheless, central government continues to ignore local community concerns as it pushes for free trade agreements and allows industry interests to dominate regulation and decision-making," GE Free Northland spokesman Martin Robinson says.

Whangarei councillors have already unanimously rejected the outdoor use of GMOs in Whangarei District.

A precedent was also set in 1998, with Auckland City Council achieving outright prohibition of all GMOs in its Hauraki Gulf and Islands District Plan.

This was put in place at low cost, without legal challenge, in keeping with the wishes of Auckland ratepayers' concerns about GMOs.

After lobbying central government for more than seven years to fix the flaws and gaps in the national minimal legislation that covers GMOs, local councils have finally had enough of their concerns being ignored and are saying no to the outdoor use of GMOs and yes to protecting the public interest by building on our clean, green, nuclear free and GE free brand, Mr Robinson says.

Whangarei's acting mayor Phil Halse says the decisions are very welcome.

"It's great to hear that the Auckland Council and the Far North District Council are joining us in investigating the local regulation of GMOs," he says.

"This reinforces the council's push to keep the wider region free of GMOs until such time as a truly strict liability regime is put in place and the risks to our biosecurity, farmers, and economy are adequately identified and addressed.

"It's highly significant that all the councils from south Auckland to Cape Reinga (one-third of the population) are taking action on a local level on their constituents concerns about GMOs."

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