It’s now 21 years since GE Free Northland/ Tai Tokerau started a very successful campaign to keep GE out of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
But it is not quite over yet! GE Free Northland is facing down yet another attempt from Federated Farmers of NZ to block precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions, polices and objectives in the Northland Regional Council proposed new Regional Plan. The hearings are coming up fast- on 30-31 October 2018 in Whangarei!
Below is a summary of our recent successes and actions. The results achieved are largely as a result of the work our team has contributed to date, funded by generous donations from a wide range of Northlanders and Aucklanders, like yourself! Details as to how you can support the campaign financially are also included.
It is a lengthy but worthwhile read and shows the amount of detailed and ongoing work that we have been putting into the mahi, to keep Aotearoa/New Zealand the premium primary producers in the world.
Progress so far
Whangarei District Council (WDC) and Far North District Council’s excellent collaborative GE/GMO plan changes (FNDC PC18 WDC PC131) are now operative, banning all release of outdoor use of GE/GMOs and making any EPA approved outdoor GE experiments or field trials a Discretionary activity, subject to additional strict liability provisions, creating a much needed tier of additional local protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs.
Hastings District Council has achieved outright prohibition of all outdoor use of GE/GMOs, and Auckland Council has strong precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan, including outright prohibition of all outdoor use of GE/GMOs in the Coastal Marine Area (CMA). We have helped achieve significant case law through the courts (winning against Federated Farmers of NZ and settling the jurisdictional issue), worked hard to ensure that the RMA is protected and enhanced, with Parliament recognising in April 2017 (Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017) that local councils can create enforceable GE Free Zones, and prevailed against the National Party’s attempt to allow GE trees in the new National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forest (NES-PF).
The new National Environment Standard-Plantation Forestry prohibits the use of any GE trees.
I have been rung by a member of the Pure Hawkes Bay coalition to personally thank us for the lead that GE Free Tai Tokerau has shown in the process
Our success to date, is due largely to Zelka Grammer, who is still chair of GE Free Northland and our full-time researcher, investigator and lobbyist, and has been working on the smell of an oily rag.
It is through our collaborative efforts that we have been able to build on our successes, and support councils outside the Northland/ Auckland rohe to follow in their example.
The next step
Funding is needed to help us get strong precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions, policies and objectives into the new Northland Regional Plan (Northland Regional Council are currently hearing submissions on the NRC proposed Regional Plan for Northland). The GE/GMOs/ controversial new genetic technologies hearings (30/31 October 2018) are coming up fast.
GE Free Tai Tokerau must engage expert witnesses, ensuring that robust expert evidence is tabled with the biased NRC. Northland Regional Council passed a controversial resolution back in March of this year, side-lining the NRC Hearings Panel/ independent commissioners on the GE/GMO issue. The NRC full council, not independent commissioners will be hearing submitters, expert witnesses and other evidence. We must make a compelling, robust case, on both land based and Coastal Marine Area issues.
We are currently seeking to raise $15,000, given the cost of expert witnesses including economist Dr. John Small, marine biologist Dr Shaw Mead, Professor Jack Heinneman, Dr. Benjamin Pittman, Dean Satchell (immediate past President NZ Farm Forestry Association), and other expenses incurred in preparing for the hearings and getting some of the expert witnesses to Northland. Any donation, large or small, from you or others, greatly appreciated!
A slight majority of the NRC councilors want to have the option of introducing novel techniques of genetic modification, such as controversial new technologies like gene editing/ gene drive and CRISPR.
We stand alongside Auckland Council and the Northland District Councils and Tai Tokerau mana whenua, seeking the following relief: that the NRC places strong precautionary and prohibitive GE/GMO provisions, policies and objective in the new Regional Plan for Northland, in alignment with the Auckland Unitary Plan (including outright prohibition of all outdoor use of GE/GMOs in the Coastal Marine Area) and in support of the WDC and FNDC GMO plan changes. We note that WDC, FNDC and the Soil & Health Association have not addressed the critically important land based issues (they are focusing only on the Coastal Marine Area).
We successfully countered Federated Farmers of NZ’s various vexatious appeals when they tried to force councils to remove valuable precautionary and prohibitive GE policies and provisions from local plans in Northland, Auckland, and Hawke’s Bay.
We hope that you are able and willing to help us so that we have stability with our finances and focus on the necessary work to promote the country as GE Free, especially given the pie-in-the-sky statements that are being made about the wonderful “new” GE technology that will save our economy, our environment, our flora and fauna, etc., etc. without any mention of the serious adverse impacts outdoor use of such risky, controversial new technologies would make on our biosecurity, unique biodiversity, businesses, livelihood, food sovereignty, growing organic sector, economy, and wellbeing.
Thank you, Marty Robinson and Zelka Grammer
GE FREE Northland / Tai Tokerau
How to donate
Cheques can be posted to:
GE Free Northland
PO Box 1439
Our bank account details are as follows:
GE Free (Northland) Inc account ¬ ANZ Kerikeri 01 0382 0009202 00. Please put your name and ‘donation’ in the reference fields
Small donations can also be by internet banking to support GE Free Northland’s key researcher, organiser, and lobbyist Zelka Grammer
Zelka, chairperson of GE Free Northland, is the key researcher and lobbyist on the GE issue for GE Free Northland. She is also on the committee of GE FREE NZ and is the national spokesperson for Local Government Issues. Considerable expenses are incurred doing the work she does. GE FREE Northland covers some of these but doesn’t compensate Zelka for the time she puts in her role as researcher, lobbyist and organiser.
If you want like to support the work she does directly details are here.
Thank you for your support!
This was passed on to the EcoCentre by Far North Organic Growers – their next field day is coming up on Sunday 28th October at Waipapa, Kerikeri (details on Facebook and in their latest newsletter, Networker)