Councils are having to take steps to ensure their regions remain GE free because the government won’t pass legislation to ensure this, says Green MP Steffan Browning.
Mr Browning says councils around the country are currently reviewing their long-terms plans, and many are considering their responsibility in ensuring their region’s crops remain GE Free.
Most recently, the Hastings District Council this week expressed support for their vision of a genetic-engineering-free food status for the region after pressure from farmers in the region who united under the organization ‘Pure Hawke’s Bay’.
Pure Hawke’s Bay was formed 18 months ago to protect the region from GE-produced crops and presented its case for a ten-year moratorium on GE-produced food at the Council’s long term hearing plan this week.
The council voted unanimously in support of this, and agreed to introduce the decision into its district plan to give it some legal clout.
They follow in the footsteps of Napier which declared itself GE free in 2001, but Napier’s council has no legal clout in enforcing it.
Auckland Council Supercity and Northland councils are also currently looking at collaborative plan changes to ensure they remain GE-free.
Mr Browning, says it’s the government that should be taking the initiative and councils are unfairly burdened in protecting their regions from GE.
“The government hasn’t set real precaution around genetic engineering and I would suggest that with their negotiations with the US at the moment with their trans-pacific partnership agreement there would be a lot of pressure to actually relax law and regulation around GE”
Currently, all of New Zealand’s crops are GE free, but Pure Hawke’s Bay spokesman, Bruno Chambers, says if there were steps made to ensure this, it would be an effective branding exercise and also protect our crops.
“GM food has got a huge number of opponents in our major markets and we don’t want any of those markets to close on us so we want to get out there an capitalize on the opportunities that exist for being GM free”