INDEPENDENT NEWS

Another Northland Council joins appeal against GMO decision

Published: Sun 1 Sep 2019 11:58 AM
GE Free Northland welcomed the news of Far North District Council's recent unanimous vote to lodge an appeal with the Environment Court against Northland Regional Council over it's decision on genetic engineering (Genetically Modified Organisms).
"We thank FNDC for its commitment to challenge the recent controversial NRC decision to exclude all precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions from the proposed new Regional Plan for Northland," said Martin Robinson, spokesperson for GE Free Northland.
GE Free Northland announced it will join FNDC and Whangarei District Council in legal action.
"In our view, the NRC has failed to make a sound decision on the critically important 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. We will join FNDC as well as WDC in seeking relief in the Environment Court against NRC," said Mr. Robinson.
The NRC decision was passed by one vote, the casting vote of the chair, despite strong community and submitter support for a precautionary approach to GMOs, and clear direction for precautionary wording (already in the operative Regional Policy Statement for Northland).
"We thank the Far North District Mayor and all councillors for acting on their duty of care to local farmers, primary producers and other constituents, as well as our environment and biosecurity," said Zelka Grammer, chairperson GE Free Northland.
"FNDC continues to demonstrate leadership on the important GE/GMO issue, in the face of NRC's recent decision and the significant risks posed by outdoor use of GMOs," said Ms. Grammer.
"The process followed by NRC regarding the GE/GMO issue has been highly controversial, and angered many Northlanders. We consider there has been a lack of transparency which was exacerbated by the failure to appoint independent commissioners to consider the GMO issue under the Regional Plan for Northland," said Ms. Grammer.
FNDC's Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes put forward the motion for FNDC to lodge an appeal against NRC , with FNDC Councillor Kelly Stratford seconding.
Clr McInnes, who chaired last Thursday's council meeting, said she hoped a new regional council would reconsider, averting the need for a costly appeal. ''I'm sure everyone's aware it's caused quite a backlash,'' she said.
"We have a very special backyard and should be doing all we can to protect it for now and future generations. It will pay dividends in the long run," said Clr McInnes.
"GE Free Northland would like to see Far North District Council and WDC work collaboratively together and with other interested parties (including local mana whenua and farmers) in this legal challenge to NRC, as our District Councils have done so successfully in the past, regarding the "Regional Policy Statement*" for Northland," said Zelka Grammer.
"Northland region's valuable agricultural, horticultural, apiculture, pastoral, and forestry sectors, and "Northland, naturally" brand must be protected (as Auckland Council has already achieved in its region)."
"Our community group will seek relief against NRC via legal action through the courts in order to protect the region's biosecurity, unique biodiversity, existing GM free primary producers, economy, and valuable existing GE free status. We support precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions, policies, and objectives in the new Regional Plan, particularly in the vulnerable Coastal Marine Area," said Ms. Grammer.

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