GENET archive


9-Misc: Whangarei District Council (New Zealand) publishes report on GMO management

                                  PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Innovative and Ground-Breaking Report on GMO Management
SOURCE: Whangarei District Council, New Zealand
DATE:   16 Nov 2005

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Innovative and Ground-Breaking Report on GMO Management

Risk and Options Report (2005)
This section contains information relating to the Risk and Options report
on GE (2005) and associated documents

Review report for Whangarei District Council final 14 July(#8716:996)
| Est Size: 239 kb |last modified: Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Opinion GMOs 2005.(#8715:997)
| Est Size: 138 kb |last modified: Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Community Management of GMOs II - Nov 05 .(#8714:998)
| Est Size: 491 kb |last modified: Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Briefing Paper on GE Initiative.(#8713:9

Description: Four options for managing GMO activities under the RMA have
been put forward in a report released today. It recommends that councils
consult with the public to gauge the level of community support for local
management of GMO land uses.

The Far North, Kaipara, Rodney, and Whangarei District Councils along
with the Waitakere City Council have jointly commissioned and funded the
report to identify options for managing the risks arising from GMOs.

Each of the options put forward involves changing councils' district
plans to allow extra safeguards to be set at the local level - ones that
would act in addition to those set by the national regulator, ERMA.

The options the report evaluates are: making all GMO land uses
discretionary activities, prohibiting all GMO land uses, and two others
that would make some classes of activity discretionary while other
classes of activity would be prohibited.

The report identifies a series of economic, environmental and cultural
risks associated with the outdoor use of GMOs. It highlights the risk
that cultivation of GM crops could cause, namely economic damage through
GM contamination appearing in non-GM crops. This is considered a major
source of risk because even trace levels of contamination are sufficient
to trigger food product rejection as a matter of course for Japanese and
northern European wholesale buyers.

At the same time, the report documents serious gaps in liability law
applying to the use of GMOs. There is no liability under the statute
governing GMOs for losses resulting from a GMO release carried out in
accordance with an approval from ERMA. Costs will instead tend to fall on
those suffering the loss or damage (such as non-GM farmers and local

A further important deficiency noted by the report is that the exercise
of precaution is a matter for ERMA's discretion. Precaution is an option,
not a requirement under the law governing ERMA. However, a number of
Northland councils have developed policies requiring precaution with
respect to the management of GMO risks.

Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options was written
by Simon Terry Associates and Mitchell Partnerships, and is accompanied
by a related legal opinion from Dr Royden Somerville QC.

Dr Somerville's legal review of the report stated that it provided a
sufficient foundation for the preparation of a change to the district
plan to allow a council to manage GMO risks, should councils choose that
course of action.

WDC Monitoring Team Leader and chairman of the Inter-Council Working
Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management Options, Dr Kerry Grundy,
said the collaborative approach undertaken by local authorities in the
Northland peninsula has been a cautious yet responsible way to proceed
with this contentious issue.

"It is an excellent example of local government working together to
address common concerns raised by their respective communities. It has
also been a fiscally responsible approach to adopt. By sharing the costs
of research and possible regulation among all local authorities in the
North Auckland/ Northland region, the cost to individual councils and to
ratepayers has been kept to a minimum."

The report, and its recommendations, will be discussed by each of the
Northern councils at their up-coming meetings. Also being provided to
councils is an independent review of the report by Karen Cronin of
Victoria University along with a covering Briefing Paper by Dr Grundy.

Contact Person: Dr Kerry Grundy Team Leader (Monitoring) Whangarei
District Council Phone: (09) 430 4200 Email:

Simon Terry (report co-author) Simon Terry Associates
Phone: (04) 449 8597, (021) 945 678

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Draft Annual Plan 2005/2006 Submissions
SOURCE: Whangarei District Council, New Zealand
DATE:   Nov 2005

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Draft Annual Plan 2005/2006 Submissions


Issue 4

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

4.1 Summary of Submissions
The predominant issues arising from the GMO submissions were:

- A request for Council to consider allocating funds to identify and
evaluate the risks GMO's represent to our environment;
- A suggestion that Council establish a policy focusing on the regulation
or prohibition of GE in the District
- A request for particular mention in the Annual plan of Councils
precautionary policy on GE.

4.2 Staff Comment: Issues for Council Consideration.
Regarding GMOs or Genetic Engineering, the Whangarei District Council
(WDC) has adopted the following policy in its 2004 - 2014 Long Term
Council Community Plan (LTCCP):

Council will adopt a precautionary approach to the management of
biotechnology in general and to GMO land uses in particular. It will
continue to investigate ways of maintaining the district's environment
free of GMOs until outstanding issues such as liability, economic costs
and benefits, environmental risks, and cultural effects are resolved.

To honour this commitment, the WDC has taken a leading role, firstly, in
the joint commissioning (with other Northland local authorities) of a
report and legal opinion Community Management of GMOs: Issues, Options
and Partnership with Government, and, secondly, in the establishment of
an Inter-Council Working Party on GE, which has commissioned a second
report, Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options.

The first report investigated and reported upon mainly jurisdictional
issues. That is, whether local authorities have jurisdiction to regulate
land uses involving genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at a local or
regional level in addition to regulation prescribed at a national level
under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. The report found
that local authorities do have jurisdiction to regulate GMO land uses
under the Resource Management Act (RMA) if the risks at a local or
regional level support regulation.

The second report was commissioned by the Inter-Council Working Party on
GE to examine the risks posed by GMO land uses at local and regional
levels together with response options to address those risks,
particularly response options under the RMA. This report has now been
completed and is presently being independently reviewed. It will be
presented to the Inter-Council Working Party on GE and then to the
individual councils who commissioned it. These were: WDC, Kaipara
District Council, Far North District Council, Rodney District Council and
Waitakere City Council.

The individual councils comprising the Inter-Council Working Party will
then need to make decisions on whether the risks outlined in the report
warrant regulation under the RMA, and, if so, what form this regulation
will take. These decisions will most likely take place in July/August.
There may be agreement amongst the councils to take a common approach
throughout the Northland Peninsula, or individual councils may decide to
either undertake unilateral regulation or, alternatively, take That no
direct changes are made to the 2005/06 Annual Plan. If there is a
decision to regulate GMO land uses under the RMA a district plan change
will most likely be required.

The collaborative approach initiated by the WDC has been a cautious yet
responsible way to address this highly contentious issue. It is an
excellent example of local government working together to respond to
common concerns raised by their respective communities over the release
of GMOs to the environment. It has also been a fiscally responsible
approach to adopt. By sharing the costs amongst all councils in the
Northland Peninsula, efforts to date have cost each council around $15,000.

It is recommended to retain the $20,000 budgeted for the 2005/2006
financial year in case there is a decision by the WDC to undertake a
district plan change. On the other hand, if council decides to take no
action in relation to GMO land uses, this money will not be required.

There were also submissions to the Annual Plan requesting that the policy
statement in the LTCCP (see above) be included in the Annual Plan and/or
the budgetary commitment of $20,000 be included. These are questions for
the writers of the Annual Plan to decide upon. Given that the Annual Plan
is supposed to outline budgetary commitments for the next financial year
that address the longer term commitments in the LTCCP, it would seem
appropriate to accept the latter request and deny the former (as unnecessary).

That if Council decides to further investigate Genetic Engineering, the
$20,000 (already) included within the Monitoring budget be utilised to
implement Council intentions.


                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  All councils should act on Northland's GE report
SOURCE: Green Party, New Zealand
DATE:   17 Nov 2005

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All councils should act on Northland's GE report

A new report on local bodies' options for managing the risks from GMO
releases should prompt councils nationwide to start factoring GE
safeguards into their district plans, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette
Fitzsimons says.

Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options was
commissioned by the Far North, Kaipara, Rodney and Whangarei District
Councils and the Waitakere City Council. It was written by Simon Terry
Associates and Mitchell Partnership and comes with a legal opinion by Dr
Royden Somerville QC. The options considered were - making all GMO land
uses discretionary activities, blanket prohibitions on all GMO land uses,
and two combinations of those two approaches for various activities. All
are local safeguards over and above those set by ERMA as the national

"I congratulate the northern councils for working together to get some
sound advice on their powers to manage the risks from genetically
engineered organisms," Ms Fitzsimons, the Greens' GE Spokesperson, says.

"I encourage councils throughout New Zealand to take this report on board
and to start discussions now with their communities to gauge the level of
concern and the specific local values that need protecting from any
future GE release.

"Then they can start incorporating the outcomes of that consultation into
their district plans. Councils need to have their rules in place before
any applications for the release of GMOs are made. The huge public
opposition to GE has bought them some time, but changes to district plans
are slow because of the multiple formal stages of consultation required,
so it would be best that they get on with it now.

"The Green Party remains opposed to any release of GMOs into New
Zealand's environment or farming system. But the Government has chosen to
set up a process where approvals are possible, so we believe that
everything should be done to reduce the risks if such applications ever
get consent.

"As part of our post-election cooperation agreement with Labour, the
Green Party has secured a commitment that additional requirements for
segregation will be developed to ensure the continued purity of GE-Free
products. The Government has agreed with the Green Party that GE-free
growers must be able to meet the demand of their markets - that their
products be absolutely free of GE contamination. We look forward to
starting work on this with the Government in the New Year." Ms Fitzsimons


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