30/07/2016

Minister's Threat to Modify Democracy Is A Step Too Far

 

The Minister for the Environment, Dr. Nick Smith, is due to approve the National Environmental Standards
for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).[1] The Ministry of Primary Industries received over 16,000 submissions
on the NES-PF seeking the removal of a clause (6.4) on GE trees that would overturn the ability of Councils
to protect their communities by placing precautionary controls on GMOs.

“If the Minister disregards the submissions and approves GE trees in the forestry standards, he will be in
breach of democratic principles," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ.

“He will also directly conflict with the Auckland Unitary Plan [2] Whangarei and Hastings regional and district
plans, all have placed controls prohibiting the release of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and made
outdoor field trials a discretionary activity”.

To respect democracy and the rights of ratepayers and consumers that are reflected in existing laws is vital.
The Auckland Unitary Plan strengthens the ability of the community in the Auckland region to protect itself
and gives a mandate to represent their views at the Environmental Protection Agency, but the Minister is
attacking this with extraordinary powers through legislative changes.

"The ability of regions to protect their environment from GE contamination is imperative. The labelling of GE
foods and the right to meet the demand for GE-free products in export markets is in the economic interests
of all New Zealand,” said Jon Carapiet spokesperson for GE Free NZ.

The attack on democratic process in New Zealand is mirrored in Australia, where there are now moves
underway to stop labelling of GE foods.

"The New Zealand government Ministerial push for GE-trees, along with powers aimed at removing regional
plans for GE-free zones, are an affront to democracy. The Ministries efforts to align with the US
biotechnology industry strategies will deny consumer choice and undermine New Zealand's competitive edge
in global markets."

References:

[1] https://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/proposed-national-environmental-standard
-for-plantation-forestry/

[2] http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/planspoliciesprojects/plansstrategies/unitaryplan/Documents/
ihprecommendations/ihp024gmos.pdf

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731

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