Northland Regional Council’s rejection of GMO moratorium is welcomed

Rejecting a moratorium on genetic modification in Northland will broaden economic opportunities, enable vital tools to meet 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.

When finally rejecting this earlier in July, the council said it was the responsibility of the Environmental Risk Management Authority to assess and control genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Activists for some time have pushed to stop farmers and conservationists using modern genetic technologies by persuading councils to impose onerous local rules and outright prohibitions, Dr Rolleston said.

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.

GE Free Northland’s claims of unacceptable risk flew in the face of science and, by injecting its requests part way through the planning process, it attempted to bypass due consideration of the plan changes and input by those who supported a science-based approach,  Dr Rolleston said.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The Life Sciences Network supports the Northland Regional Council’s future-focused decision in rejecting an inadequate process and, with other parties, would consider joining the Regional Council to defend any appeal of this decision, Dr Rolleston said.

Source: Life Sciences Network

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