23/01/2007

Council Faces Legal Challenge for Ignoring Public Submissions

 

GE Free NZ are supportive of the appeal to the Environment Court by John Lawson of
Tainui Hapu Ki Whaingaroa and Malibu Hamilton, challenging the Waikato District Council's
rejection of hundreds of public submissions on GE.
Like many communities across New Zealand local people had made submissions to Council

asking them to:
“prohibit the growth, development & field-testing of genetically modified & transgenic
organisms envisaged for agriculture, horticulture & forestry, except within the boundary of
Ruakura Agricultural Research Institute & Waikato Innovation Park, in the Waikato region.”

The WDC heard compelling evidence at the long term district plan hearing on the hazards of
GMO expansion and development, and the potential to burden ratepayers with costs arising from
accidental release as well as endangering the lucrative organics industry.
Many Councils North of Auckland have sought legal opinions from people like
Dr Royden Sommerville QC, and others in relation to the possible effects and solutions for
Councils relating to GMO’s. The evidence and information in the reports has led the Councils
to implement precautionary rules around the use and development of GMO’s,
“until the risk potential has been adequately identified and evaluated and a strict liability regime
put in place”.
The Waikato District Council was asked by their rate payers to consider the same
precaution and the Council assured them it would talk to the other councils. Unfortunately
the Council subsequently ignored their submissions, and this is now being challenged in court.

It is disappointing that legal action has become necessary when GMO’s have become a clear
threat to sustainability and marketing New Zealand product. Internationally
GMO development has been met with an ongoing consumer backlash. It is also linked to crop
failures, and adverse effects in animal feeding and human clinical studies.
Crown Research Institutes should follow the 'smart' money and invest in other forms of
non-GE breeding like marker assisted selection (MAS).
It is concerning to see New Zealand CRI's so intent on pushing GMO development that
endangers New Zealand’s export market and clean green status. Instead they should be
innovating with sustainabilty and consumer-trends to natural, clean and ethical
food-production firmly in mind.

Until this strategic vision for sustainability is embraced by CRI's Local Government
cannot disregard the rate payers wish to limit the expansion of GMO's.
Under current legislation it is rate payers who could end up having to carry the
burden of clearing up contaminated sites or compensation for damage.
It is admirable that these people care enough to protect their communities and
challenge the WDC's process.
ENDS:
Contact :
Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

References: Form 7 Notice of appeal to Environment Court against decision on proposed plan
Clause 14(1) of First Schedule, Resource Management Act 1991



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