The Soil & Health Association is encouraging the New Plymouth District Council to adopt precautionary provisions in the New Plymouth District Plan for any genetically engineered (genetically modified) organisms that may be trialled or used commercially.
The Proposed Draft New Plymouth District Plan, which is open for public feedback, makes no mention of GMOs.
Soil & Health is calling on New Plymouth district residents to make submissions by 5pm Friday 16 March.
“We want to ensure that the Council adequately protects the district from the significant adverse effects posed by GMO use by including strong precautionary or prohibitive GMO policies and rules into its District Plan,” says Soil & Health National Council member Marion Thomson.
“We call on the New Plymouth District Council to follow the lead of the other councils around New Zealand that have already adopted precautionary provisions and banned the outdoor release of GMOs via their local policy statements and plans.”
Auckland Council, Far North District Council and Whangarei District Council have prohibited the outdoor release of GMOs and made field trials a discretionary activity with performance standards regarding liability and the posting of bonds.
Ms Thomson claims GMOs threaten the economic sustainability of a wide range of agricultural activities that benefit from having GE-free status, including dairy, honey, forestry and horticulture.
“No matter how carefully conditions are crafted, there inevitably remains a risk that they may be breached by poor management, human error, natural events such as severe storms or even sabotage,” says Ms Thomson.
Current laws are inadequate to properly protect communities from the potential adverse effects of GE, she said, citing the lack of provision under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act for financial liability for GMO contamination resulting from the release of an approved GMO. This means those people or companies responsible for causing harm may not be held liable.
But under the Resource Management Act, requirements for bonds for remediation and to cover the costs of contamination can be included in district plans if local councils choose to implement them.
Submissions can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm Friday 16 March.
Soil & Health’s submission can be viewed HERE.
Source: Soil and Health Association.