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Guest Post – Hawkes Bay is GE free

Written By: - Date published: 9:41 am, September 14th, 2015 - 26 comments
Categories: Economy, Environment, food - Tags: ,

ge free

From Open Mike

We can now declare at least one region of New Zealand GE free: Hawkes Bay.

This is after years of dogged work and really expensive District Plan hearings opposed tooth and nail by Federated Farmers, Scion the tree genetics people, and others.

The uniqueness of this victory is it’s not driven by the usual suspects. It’s driven by fruit growers who want to protect and promote the extra value they get for the privilege of being able to declare their crops GE free.

For my sins over the last week I read Margaret Attwood’s Oryx and Crake, a full-fledged gene spliced apocalyptic dystopia. Of course it pushed GE experimentation to its furthest lengths. But the message was the same: GE experimentation is wrong, it will get out of the labs, and its effects will be unstoppable and unpredictable.

A GE free New Zealand is a New Zealand whose values have been protected.

Huge ups in particular to all those who donated, drafted, advocated and sustained the effort against these massive companies to win.

Ad

Although as Jenny Kirk points out:

Well – that IS good news, Ad, But…. and there’s a huge BUT coming along – the Govt has introduced a National Environment Standard for plantation forests, and at the very last moment put in a small clause which explicity allows government agencies to overturn any attempts by local councils to prevent GMO-modified plants/trees coming into their districts.

There were 16,000 submissions opposing this small clause, but it remains to be seen whether the govt will take any notice of them.

26 comments on “Guest Post – Hawkes Bay is GE free ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    It’s driven by fruit growers who want to protect and promote the extra value they get for the privilege of being able to declare their crops GE free.

    Hopefully they’re also pushing for full organics.

  2. maui 2

    Awesome, that’s great stuff!

    The Government riding roughshod over this is similar to the issue of tree protection where local councils can’t give trees blanket protection like they used to. The council has to individually record specific trees which is just a massive waste of time and money.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Which would be why this government did it – protecting things gets in the way of making more profit and so they’ve made it too expensive to do.

    • weka 2.2

      From what I can tell the general gist of the changes to the local bodies act a few years ago was to stop councils interfering in or being responsible for community issues 🙄

      • Ad 2.2.1

        A further set of arguments on GE District Plans provisions are occurring through the relevant provisions of the Draft Auckland Unitary Plan. Huge amounts more resource are being piled up on the pro-GE side for this hearing.

        The one to watch in this is Nick Smith as responsible Minister.
        He is not at all keen on GE free district plans.

        Minister Smith has already signalled that he will use the upcoming RMA reforms to essentially eliminate rights of appeal to this Draft Unitary Plan. He wants the Unitary Plan fully settled before the 2016 Local Body Elections, so the fresh Council can just get on with enacting it in the next three years.

  3. Allyson 3

    Have they also banned pharmaceutical products manufactured using GE plants? I’m kinda attached to Insulin these days and would still like to visit HB one day.

    • dukeofurl 3.1

      You mean the GE microbes they use these days to make insulin ?

      I dont see where they let them out into the wild or are planted amongst the apples or cherries

    • Don’t worry, if people would just use alternative medicine and eat organic food, no-one would need insulin ever again. Or something.

  4. A GE free New Zealand is a New Zealand whose values have been protected.

    New Zealand’s values are anti-science and technology? When did that happen? The values of irrationalist hippies aren’t New Zealand ones to any greater extent than in any other countries.

    For my sins over the last week I read Margaret Attwood’s Oryx and Crake, a full-fledged gene spliced apocalyptic dystopia.

    And I guess, in the early 2000s, when Atwood wrote it, gene splicing was what people thought GE meant. There’s no excuse for pretending that’s what it’s about these days.

    We can now declare at least one region of New Zealand GE free: Hawkes Bay.

    We can now declare one region of NZ dedicated to satisfying the neuroses of irrational people with more money than sense. There might be money in it, but it’s nothing to be proud of.

  5. Our farming family (farming outside Whangarei) was rapt to hear about the decision of Hastings District Council, who wisely has decided (in keeping with the wishes of local Hawke’s Bay primary producers) to ban the outdoor use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GE/GMOs). Well done HDC! All of the councils from south Auckland to Cape Reinga are also working hard to put in place a tier of much needed additional local protection (enforceable rules) against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs…on top of what the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act requires on a national level… Local Government NZ, all AUckland and Northland councils, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Hastings District Council, Nelson City Council, Marlborough District Council, mana whenua around NZ have identified serious deficiencies in the HSNO Act as regards GMOs and are taking Action to protect their farmers/ foresters and other ratepayers from the risks of outdoor use of GMOs. We are in the business of producing safe and clean, nourishing food of the highest quality, to the most discerning markets…our customers/ key markets will not tolerate even trace contamination of GE- we say Keep it natural! NO to GMOs, we don’t buy it!

  6. p.s. It is extremely offensive that the National Party (it’s Minister “for” the Environment Nick Smith and previous Minister Amy Adams) are pushing to strip local authorities of their right to protect their existing valuable GE free status. The National Party should show respect for the wishes of local communities (including existing non GM primary producers…conventional, IPM and organic) and their councils…who have identified serious deficiencies in the HSNO Act and who CAN complement the HSNO Act by using the Resource Management Act (RMA) to put in place much needed additional protections from the risks of GMOs (to our biosecurity, unique biodiversity, primary producers, the environment and the public health). Northland farmers will protect our Northland, Naturally brand…we will not tolerate risky GE experiments or releases on our patch. The HSNO Act has inadequate liability provisions and has no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor GE applications- just not good enough!

    • Ad 6.1

      Great stuff Linda.
      Totally agree about liability.
      The number of toxic waste dams, oil storage facilities, and timber treatment plants that companies fight tooth and nail to avoid paying anything in recompense, or conveniently go out of business, continues to amaze me.

      Good farmers like yourself are doing this country proud.

  7. …no mandatory requirement for the EPA to take a precautionary approach to outdoor GE applications…

    Or, to put it another way, “doesn’t expect the EPA to require people to prove a negative,” because the people who wrote the Act aren’t stupid.

    The government not only has a right to overrule councils on this, it ought to feel an obligation to. Local councils have no right to impose some ratepayers’ religious beliefs on ratepayers who don’t share those beliefs.

    • millsy 7.1

      So you think its OK for Monsanto to own exclusive rights to our crops then?

    • Ad 7.2

      I’m just guessing you don’t grow crops for a living.

      • Psycho Milt 7.2.1

        So you think its OK for Monsanto to own exclusive rights to our crops then?

        This one is millsy’s favourite, the “non sequitur.”

        I’m just guessing you don’t grow crops for a living.

        This one is a variant on “no true Scotsman,” in which it’s implied that no true crop farmer would use genetically modified organisms.

        • millsy 7.2.1.1

          Well — come on, do you?

          • Psycho Milt 7.2.1.1.1

            No. And my answer to the equally-irrelevant question of whether I think the Sex Pistols should have sacked Glen Matlock is likewise “No.” Do you have any comment that’s actually relevant to the subject at hand? (Rhetorical question – I’m aware the answer to that one is also “No”).

    • Adele 7.3

      Teenaa koe, Psycho

      “…local councils have no right to impose some ratepayers religious beliefs on ratepayers who don’t share those beliefs”.

      Great, now use that logic to argue against the payment of water and land rates. Taangata Whenua view such payments as Tithings to a Colonial God.

      Our Gods weren’t about puutea.

      • Psycho Milt 7.3.1

        Taangata Whenua view such payments as Tithings to a Colonial God.

        Some of them, sure. There’s a proportion of every ethnic group that holds bizarre, ridiculous views, as evidenced by blog comments threads every day. All the tangata whenua I know view such payments as covering the provision of stuff they use in their communities – stuff like roads, footpaths, water supply, sewerage and wastewater disposal, parks, libraries, swimming pools, sports facilities etc. I guess you’ve found common ground with the libertarians – they don’t like paying for that stuff via rates either.

        • Adele 7.3.1.1

          Teenaa koe, Psycho

          Firstly, understand what it means to be taangata whenua as opposed to being Maaori. They do not necessarily mean the same thing.

          Secondly, you will find within this country’ s history that until colonisation, there were no rates owing on Land.

          You will further find in history that rates were used to systematically strip tangata from whenua through various iterations of the Rating Powers Act.

          I am fairly sure that given the decision making ability, taangata whenua would forego paakehaa largesse in the form of roads and rubbish collection for the opportunity to return to the whenua of their belonging.

          But getting back to GMO. People can and are allowed to think with their emotions. Food has a high emotional content. Increasingly, people who have the capacity to choose are choosing not to eat cruel meat or chemically enhanced calories.

          A significant niche market that we can meet as an environmentally astute country. GMO does not fit the kaupapa.

  8. Martin Robinson 8

    Psycho Milt, you say that
    ” Local councils have no right to impose some ratepayers’ religious beliefs on ratepayers who don’t share those beliefs.”

    It’s nothing to do with religion – unless money is your God.

    Local councils are expected to set rules to reflect community aspirations and to control behaviour that is injurious to other residents’ rights.

    GMOs are living organisms that do not respect boundaries, and as a result of escape there are numerous examples of escape of GMOs that have destroyed livelihoods and neighbourhoods.

    Numerous unsuccessful approaches have been made to the Government by the Northern Councils since 2003, seeking amendments to the HSNO Act to make users of the technology liable for damages caused by the results of an ERMA / EPA approved GMOs.

    If the Government won’t help then it is up to Councils to look after their residents’ and ratepayers’ interests.

  9. It’s nothing to do with religion – unless money is your God.

    I’m not suggesting GE opponents’ God is money, I’m suggesting that the view of ‘natural’ as a moral virtue (ie, as inherently good) is a religious one, not a rational one. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about ‘natural’, or about ‘genetic engineering.’

    Local councils are expected to set rules to reflect community aspirations and to control behaviour that is injurious to other residents’ rights.

    1. Within limits. For instance, if a local community feels that homosexual acts are “behaviour that is injurious to other residents’ rights,” the government wouldn’t hesitate to prevent them making bylaws to that effect.

    2. Banning the use of legal and safe technology is “injurious to … residents’ rights.”

    • maui 9.1

      There’s nothing inherently good or bad about ‘natural’, or about ‘genetic engineering.’

      Most people treat genetically engineered products with caution, where as naturally made products are valued or prized. Welcome to “clean, green, genetically modified New Zealand” – doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

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