The Soil & Health Association of NZ and GE Free Northland are supporting Whangarei and Far North District Council proposals to protect their territories from GM releases.
The two lobby groups led a group of 14 submitters, presenting their case at a joint hearing on Whangarei District Council and Far North District Council’s proposed district plan changes for the outdoor use of genetically modified organisms.
The two lobby groups engaged expert witnesses to outline the case for the precautionary approach to GMO releases that both councils have proposed for their district plans.
The plan changes would allow veterinary vaccines that use GMOs to be used without permits, but outdoor field trials would require council consent. Releasing GMOs to the environment would be prohibited for the life of the plans, or until such time as there is certainty as to how any risks can be managed.
Discretionary activities – or outdoor field trials – would need to meet certain standards, including bonds to cover the costs of any unintended economic, health or environmental damage caused by EPA-approved GE experiments and the costs of ongoing monitoring.
Many members of GE Free Northland are primary producers whose livelihood is from farming, horticulture, forestry and beekeeping, or home gardeners, all of whom are concerned they could be adversely affected by GMOs.
Soil & Health and GE Free Northland support the right of communities to decide whether or not GMOs are released or field-trialled in their regions and, if so, whether any conditions should be placed on them.