The Soil & Health Association says it welcomes Federated Farmers’ decision to drop legal challenges to several local council resource management plans controlling their outdoor use.
Soil & Health reminds us the farmers’ organisation has run a number of cases before the courts challenging the rights of communities in Auckland, the Far North and Whangarei to manage the outdoor use of GMOs within their own districts and regions.
The courts continued to find that territorial authorities have the right under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to set their own policies and rules controlling GMO use, a finding that Federated Farmers repeatedly challenged.
Marion Thomson, Soil & Health National Council Member, congratulated the farm organisation
” … for seeing the sense in dropping further litigation, allowing Councils to get on with making GMO policies and plans that reflect the needs of regions and communities”.
Soil & Health has held strong concerns about the potential impact of GMO land use on regions dependent on an agricultural export sector increasingly reliant on non-GMO requirements of key trading partners.
“This affects both the traditional agricultural sector and New Zealand’s growing organic sector,” Ms Thomson said.
The New Zealand environment and our local communities should not be guinea pigs for GMO land use, she said.
Auckland Council, Far North District Council and Whangarei District Council all prohibit the general outdoor release of GMOs and made field trials a discretionary activity with performance standards in place, whilst Northland Regional Council adopted a precautionary approach in its regional policy statement.
Soil & Health, representing organic and GE-free farmers, primary producers, home gardeners and consumers across New Zealand, has long campaigned against Federated Farmers in each court challenge brought by the feds.
On its website, Federated Farmers sets out their policy stance on GMOs (HERE):
“Federated Farmers’ policy on GMOs is designed to be neutral, recognising that members have a diversity of opinions on the subject.
“Federated Farmers does not advocate unrestricted use of GMOs, especially in relation to allowing foreign DNA into organisms. At the same time, we want to avoid a moratorium on new biotechnologies.
“Fundamentally, the Federation’s policy asserts farmers’ right to use technologies that are approved as safe. We support responsible, flexible farming systems which can respond to changing consumer preferences, market dynamics and advances in technology. We also want to ensure that New Zealand farmers can hold their own with our international competitors, in terms of on-farm productivity.”