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6-Regulation: Marlborough Council asks New Zealand Government to extend moratorium



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TITLE:  Marlborough Council asks Govt to extend moratorium
SOURCE: NewsQuest, UK//Marlborough Express, New Zealand
        http://www.lifesciencenz.com/news-detail.asp?newsID=4138
DATE:   June 17, 2003

--------------------- archive: www.gene.ch/genet.html --------------------


Marlborough Council asks Govt to extend moratorium

Marlborough District Council is joining other local authorities in asking
the Government to leave a moratorium on the release of genetically engineered
organisms (GEOs) in place. 

The move has been welcomed by a number of Marlborough producers who want to
see a cautious approach to the release of GEOs. 

The council, along with Local Government New Zealand, Environment Bay of
Plenty and several other local authorities, wants a decision from the Government
on whether regions could decide individually on the release of GEOs. 

The submission, sent to Parliament's Education and Science Select Committee
on Thursday, expresses concern that a "large community of interest" had been
overlooked in the management of GEOs with the moratorium due to be lifted in
October. 

The report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, released in
2001, has been used as the basis for the Government's decision to allow release
from October. 

If councils were given the ability to make regional decisions then GEOs
would have to be the subject of another round of public consultation at a
regional level. 

Marlborough councillor John Craighead said that under current legislation,
once the Environmental Risk Management Authority approved an organism for
release, the ability of regions to protect a GEO-free status would be gone. 

"Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of decisions at the national level for
release of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) there remains reasonable
expectations at the community level that GMOs should, in appropriate
circumstances, be able to be managed on an area basis to protect the GMO-free status of
local produce," the submission states. 

Marlborough Federated Farmers president Pat O'Sullivan said he was opposed
to the release of GEOs which could turn overseas consumers away from New
Zealand products. 

However, that was not representative of Marlborough farmers who fell into
both for and against camps, he said. 

Marlborough Grapegrowers Association president Stuart Smith said GEO release
was unlikely to impact on international wine sales but if vines or yeast
were genetically engineered there would be issues. 

Tim Newsham, of the Marlborough Environment Centre, said he was pleased the
council recognised the "million reasons" not to release GEOs. 

Mr Craighead said the council wants the matter dealt with through the
Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act. 

"If that is not possible then the apparent ability to deal with GMOs under
the Resource Management Act (RMA) should be removed. If the HSNO Act cannot
provide for area management, it is unrealistic to expect the RMA to do so. 

"The MDC also considers that the moratorium on release of GMOs should remain
in place until this matter is settled so that any potential for area
management is preserved." 

Mr Craighead said the council had asked to speak to the select committee
about the submission. 

 
ge

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