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19 Feb 2018 7:04
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  •   Home > News > Local Politics

    Northland council can include GMOs

    Genetically modified organisms can be now included in Northland Regional Council policy after a legal challenge was abandoned.


    The way is clear for Northland Regional Council to include genetically modified organisms in its policy after a legal challenge was abandoned by Federated Farmers.

    Federated Farmers confirmed in a statement on Friday that it had withdrawn its challenge in the Court of Appeal concerning the council's jurisdiction to manage GMOs.

    Recent amendments to the Resource Management Act are likely to have reduced the chances of success in the court, Federated Farmers' president Katie Milne says.

    "We consider management decisions made by central government agencies, such as decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency [regarding] GMOs, should not be able to be undermined or overridden by the whim of individual regional or district councils."

    Citizens, including farmers, should be free to do things that have been approved by a central government agency, Ms Milne said.

    Taking the case to court was about trying to prevent unnecessary duplication between national and local regulators, she said.

    In 2016, the High Court upheld the council's rights to decide whether GMOs can be banned in their areas, knocking back the Federated Farmers' appeal, who then went to the Court of Appeal.

    Lobby group GE Free NZ's national spokesman Jon Carapiet says "alarming" RMA changes passed under the National government would have prevented councils and communities from placing controls on the management of GMOs, and allowed ministers to annul local body decisions.

    "It is now enshrined in law that all councils are able to place precautionary and prohibitive GMO policies in their plans," he said.


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