“Rejecting a moratorium on genetic modification (GM) in Northland will broaden economic opportunities, enable vital
tools to meet our environmental challenges and was the right decision for the Northland Regional Council to make”, the
chairman of the Life Sciences Network Dr William Rolleston said today.
GE Free Northland and others had attempted to inject prohibitive GM provisions into the regional plan part way through
the planning process. This was finally rejected by the council earlier this month citing in their rationale that it is
the responsibility of the Environmental Risk Management Authority to assess and control genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) at this time.
Activists have for some time pushed to stop farmers and conservationists using modern genetic technologies by persuading
councils to impose onerous local rules and outright prohibitions. They claimed national legislation and decision makers
– considered by scientists to be among the most strict and conservative in the world – were not enough to manage the
risks they perceived to be present despite two decades of safe use.
“Not only do GE Free Northland’s claims of unacceptable risk fly in the face of science but, by injecting their requests
part way through the planning process, they attempted to bypass due consideration of the plan changes and input by those
who support a science based approach.
“Genetic modification has made a significant impact on the world’s ability to produce food while reducing agriculture’s
impact on the climate and combating pests and disease.
“New genetic technologies, such as gene editing, are revolutionising medicine and agriculture. We cannot afford to stand
back and, simply because of activist pressure, watch the world pass us by.
“Our farmers and conservationists need access to all the tools in the toolbox (including genetic technologies) if we are
to address today’s biosecurity, climate change and water quality challenges and be predator free.
“If GE Free Northland has the strength of its convictions it will introduce a plan change itself in a manner where it
can be properly scrutinised.
“The Life Sciences Network supports the Northland Regional Council’s future-focused decision in rejecting an inadequate
process and, with other parties, will consider joining the Regional Council to defend any appeal of this decision”,
concluded Dr Rolleston.