23/11/2016

Maori Party support of RMA Bill Threatens GE-Free Zones

 

GE Free zones from Hawkes Bay to Kaitaia are at risk from the Maori Party’s support of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (RLA) through to its second reading. GE Free NZ members are urging the Maori Party to reconsider their support of the Bill that gives the Minister powers to override local government rules and policies on land use in their regions (cl 360D).[1]

The Resource Management Act (RMA), allows Councils to place precautionary policies in their plans that will protect GMO-free production and exports. The RLA would take away Councils’ authority.

The Minister for the environment, Nick Smith, has declared he would overturn and block any council policies to protect GE Free regions with this Bill. In essence the Maori Party is agreeing to remove New Zealand’s GE Free status, and undermine our world class standard for safety and zero tolerance on importation of viable GE seeds.

GE-Free NZ rejects claims that GE-Free zones must be sacrificed to remove trade barriers for ratification of free trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership. Clean agricultural production is New Zealand's point of difference not a trade barrier. Recent decisions allowing US States to regulate GMOs supports this view. The United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit has ruled that if state law allows regulation of harmful plants, they can declare GE Free Regions.[3]

“Minister Smith’s legislation is using a false premise to strip regions of their rights and to get rid of New Zealand’s GE Free status," said Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ

At the same time as the proposed RMA amendments, Federated Farmers are challenging the Far North and Whangarei District Councils plans to place prohibitions on the growing of GE crops in the Northland region, as well as appealing the High Court decision allowing the Whangarei Regional Council long term plan on GE crops. [2]

“Minister Nick Smith is not listening to farmers but following an agenda that is led by a lobby of corporate businesses that have promoted genetic engineering for the last 19 years” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE free NZ.

“New Zealand has benefitted from not adopting GMO agriculture. The comparison by the New York Times of EU and US outcomes for agriculture supports protection of New Zealand’s GE-free status."

References:

[1] http://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/pdf/GE-Free-submission-to-RLAB-14.3.2016.pdf

[2] Far North District Council (FNDC) # 18 & Whangarei District Council (WDC) #131 Proposed District Plan change - Genetically Modified Organisms http://www.gefree.org.nz/ge-free-court-council-submissions/

[3] United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit
http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2016/11/18/15-16466.pdf

4) Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/business/gmo-promise-falls-short.html?_r=0

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681 National spokesperson

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731

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