ARC reaffirms its GM stand

Thursday 6 May 2010, 7:25AM
By Auckland Regional Council


The ARC has reaffirmed its dissatisfaction with the management of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in New Zealand, and has resolved to continue to seek better outcomes for local communities.

Continuing its association with the Inter-council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options, the council will be joining other members in writing to the Minister for the Environment highlighting their concerns.

“We will continue to highlight the urgent need for legislation to protect local communities from the risks and liability associated with GMO failures,” said Cr Brent Morrissey, the ARC’s representative on the Inter Council Working Party.

“It is absolutely untenable for the government to push on with GMOs when local communities will have to face the mop-up costs if things go wrong.

“Public opinion polling carried out for the working party by Colmar Brunton has shown that nearly 70% of Aucklanders want greater local involvement in decisions on GMOs, and nearly 65% of people want a liability regime stricter than the one currently in place to address any effects from GMO use,” he said.

Cr Morrissey is pleased that the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has declined an application from AgResearch that would have allowed a virtually open-ended research project for an unlimited range of genetic modifications on a wide range of animals in unspecified locations and for an unlimited period of time.

Cr Morrissey is urging the government to consider amendments to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNOA) to ensure such applications aren’t made in the future.

“I remain suspicious that ERMA would not have so conclusively rejected the proposals if its deficiencies had not already been so clearly identified in the original decision of the High Court directing that ERMA should not accept such broad applications,” said Cr Morrissey.

Cr Morrissey expressed hope that the signal from the government that the functions of ERMA will become those of the new Environmental Protection Agency may indicate a willingness to reform the legislation and processes which determine whether or not applications to use GMOs can proceed.

“We will be carefully monitoring to see whether the Government is listening to the people of Auckland and Northland to ensure that their concerns are addressed.”