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6-Regulation: Whangarei (New Zealand) residents can have say on GMOs, district council decides



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

TITLE:  Residents can have say on GMOs, district council decides
SOURCE: The Northern Advocate, New Zealand, by Mike Dinsdale
        http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?
storyid=3671041&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=
DATE:   02  Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Residents can have say on GMOs, district council decides


There was drama, emotion, claims and counter-claims but after almost two
hours of debate, it's been decided that Whangarei residents can have a
say on the release of genetically modified organisms in the district.

The Whangarei District Council yesterday voted to take part in an
extensive consultation process _ in conjunction with other local
authorities from Waitakere north, on the contentious issue of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or genetic engineering as it is
also known.

Councillors also voted to adopt a precautionary approach to the release
of GMOs into the environment and lobby the Government and all other
political parties to address the regulatory gaps over the liability
faced by councils over the release of GMOs in their area.

The public consultation process will gauge the level of community
support for local and/or regional regulation of GMO land uses, the level
of risk the public is willing to carry, and whether regulation of GMO
land use be under joint central and local government.
The consultation was recommended in a report on the risks of GMOs
commissioned by councils in Northland, Rodney and Waitakere.

The report - Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options
- found Northland's billion-dollar-a-year farming and tourism industries
could be at risk if GMO releases are not controlled. It also said the
risk of environmental and economic damage from GMOs is very real in Northland.

Yesterday's debate was robust, with all councillors expressing strong
opinions on the issue, though several said the item was about risk
management, rather than whether genetic engineering was good or bad.

But with comments ranging from "ban GE" - Councillor Sue Glen - to "the
report is laced with anti-GE rhetoric" from Cr John Williamson, it would
seem that was exactly what the debate was about.

With a small group of anti-GE campaigners in the public gallery cheering
after every statement opposing GMOs, councillors Frank Newman, Greg
Martin and Ann Shaw applauded Cr Williamson for saying that the council
needed to hear the "whole story" on GE.

However, Cr Kahu Sutherland said the risk from GMOs was too great and
the council did not have the mandate to expose "our community to the unknown".

The district council has set aside $10,000 for the consultation along
with the Waitakere and Rodney District councils.

The Far North and and Kaipara District Councils have yet to commit the
same amount to the process.

All the district councils would need to support and fund the
consultation before it goes ahead Northland-wide. The Northland Regional
Council has declined to furnish the full amount at this stage, but the
process is not dependent on its contribution.

GE Free Northland chairwoman Zelka Grammer applauded the council for
committing to the consultation.

Ms Grammer said a 7000-strong petition given to the council several
years ago opposing GE - the largest ever given to the council - sent a
message that the public wanted a say on the issue.

"This is a really bold and innovative approach in response to the
concerns of the public," she said.


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

TITLE:  11. Genetic Engineering
SOURCE: Whangarei District Council
        http://www.wdc.govt.nz/agendas_online/CL_1022006/A676449.html
DATE:   01 Feb 2006

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Whangarei District Council
1 February 2006 at 9.00am

[...]

11. Genetic Engineering

Reporting Officer: Ian McAlley (Environmental Services Manager)
File Ref: 95/1/4
Date: 11 January 2006


Vision, Mission and Values

This agenda item, together with its recommendations, was written with
the Whangarei District Council's Vision, Mission and Values in mind. The
WDC's approach to the issue of Genetic Engineering has contributed to
Council's Vision, Mission and Values, particularly to the values of
customer first, innovation and excellence and visionary leadership.

Local Government Act 2002 - The Four Well-Beings
Cultural: There are a range of cultural concerns over genetic
engineering, and the WDC's approach may help to address those concerns.
Economic: There are potentially substantial negative economic
implications with the release of GMOs to the environment, and the WDC's
approach may address some of those implications.
Environmental: There are potentially significant adverse environmental
impacts associated with the release of GMOs to the environment, and the
WDC's approach may assist in mitigating those impacts.
Social: There are important social considerations involved with the
release of GMOs to the environment, and the WDC's approach may help
clarify those social issues.


Risks and Options Report on GE

Introduction

This agenda item accompanies the Risks and Options Report on GE (and
associated documents) that the Whangarei District Council (WDC) jointly
commissioned and financed with the Far North District Council (FNDC),
Kaipara District Council (KDC), Rodney District Council (RDC) and
Waitakere City Council (WCC). Specifically, the following documents were
commissioned and are presented to Council:

Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options, by Simon
Terry Associates and Mitchell Partnerships.
Review of GE Issues and Options Report for Whangarei District Council,
by Karen Cronin, Independent Reviewer.
Legal Opinion on Land Use Controls and GMOs, by Dr Royden Somerville QC.

It will be recommended that these documents be received by Council along
with a Briefing Paper on the GE Initiative written by Dr Kerry Grundy on
behalf of the Joint Inter-council Working Party on GE. It will also be
recommended that Council consider a number of resolutions passed by the
Inter-council Working Party on GE regarding possible future courses of
action on this issue.

The above mentioned documents were distributed under separate cover on 7
November 2005. The Briefing Paper on GE Initiative is also attached to
this agenda item. It is recommended that the Briefing Paper be closely
scrutinised as it provides valuable background information on the GE
initiative and supporting detail to the agenda item.

It should be clearly understood at the outset that this initiative is
only concerned with the release of GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
to the environment, i.e. land uses involving GMOs, either field trials
or the commercial production of genetically engineered plants or
animals. Local government has no legal mandate to regulate medicinal use
of genetically engineered substances, laboratory contained
experimentation, or sale of genetically engineered foodstuffs or
substances in shops, supermarkets or restaurants.


Summary of Process to Date

The WDC has made the following commitment to the community in its 2004
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 to maintain the district's environment free
of GMOs until outstanding issues such as liability, economic costs and
benefits, environmental risks, and cultural effects are resolved.

Also, the WDC passed the following resolution at its 5 May 2004 council
meeting:

That the WDC liaise with other Northland Councils to discuss a common
approach to future action (if any) on the management of land uses
involving GMOs in the environment and that this liaison be carried out
either by staff members or through a working group consisting of staff
and councillor(s).

Subsequently, the Inter-council Working Party on GE was convened and
formulated a process for advancing investigations and a brief for
commissioning a Risk Evaluation and Options Report on GE. The proposed
process and brief were presented to the 4 August 2004 council meeting
and the following resolution was passed:

1. That the WDC agrees to the approach for advancing investigations into
the management of GMOs in the environment as outlined in attachment 1 of
this agenda item.
2. That the WDC agrees to contribute $10,000 to jointly fund (along with
FNDC, KDC, RDC, WCC, and NRC) a Risk Evaluation and Options Report as
outlined in attachment 2 of the agenda.
3. That the WDC acts as the coordinating agency in commissioning the
above report. That is, the WDC will coordinate the commissioning of the
report, collect contributions from participating councils and ensure
payment to the authors of the report.
4. That the WDC nominates one Councillor (Cr Lieffering) to sit on the
Joint Steering Group and take part in discussions of the Joint Working
Party on GMO Management.

Note: NRC did not pay the $10,000 desired in (2) above resulting in the
actual cost for the other parties being approximately $12,000.

In line with this resolution, a Risks and Options Report on GE, an
associated legal opinion and an independent review were commissioned and
produced. On 9 September 2005 these documents were received and
discussed by the Inter-council Working Party on GE. The following
resolutions were adopted at the meeting:

1.  That the outcomes of this meeting be jointly reported to the
participating councils at their November 2005 meetings.
2. That a consistent covering brief be presented to each council (or
committee thereof) along with the Risks and Options Report, legal
opinion and independent review. That this brief forms the basis of
agenda items that can be added to by staff of individual councils if
deemed necessary.
3. That this covering brief (and accompanying agenda items) ask the
respective councils participating in the Working Party on GE to make a
number of determinations, these being:

(i) Whether the council wishes to take a proactive stance and continue
with the initiative on GE. In effect, does council consider the risks
outlined in the Risks and Options Report sufficient to warrant further
action on this issue.

(ii) If so, whether the council wishes to continue on a collaborative
basis, i.e. involving all or most of the local authorities on the
Northland peninsula, or unilaterally. (Councils may wish to continue
only on a collaborative basis and any further action could be made
subject to this qualification).

(iii)  If a joint approach is agreed upon, whether the council should
follow the recommendations in the Risks and Options Report and initiate
a consultation programme with its community to determine what level of
support exists for the various options in the Report. That this
consultation programme, if initiated, be coordinated by the Working
Party on GE and be consistent across the Northland peninsula.

(iv) Whether the council needs to make a budgetary commitment to the
consultation programme (subject to an agreed upon consultation process).


Where to From Here

The Risks and Options Report and associated documentation was received
by the Waitakere City Council (WCC) on 16 November 2005 and the Rodney
District Council (RDC) on 1 December 2005. It was also received by the
Northland Regional Council (NRC) on 14 December 2005. It is to be
presented to the Kaipara District Council (KDC) on 25 January 2006 and
the Far North District Council (FNDC) sometime in February 2006. Copies
were also sent to the Minister for the Environment, who is responsible
for the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), the Minister for
Conservation, the Minister of Agriculture, Local Government New Zealand,
and the Northland Conservation Board.

Both the WCC and RDC have agreed to continue to support a regional
collaborative approach to the issue of GMO land uses and to participate
in a joint community consultation programme with other local authorities
on the Northland peninsula.  Both councils have committed funding
towards this end. The NRC has deferred making a decision until March
2006 so that advice can be obtained on how the independent reviewer's
recommendations were addressed in the final Report and comments can be
sought on the Report from ERMA. The KDC's agenda item for the 25 January
contains the following recommendations:

- That Council holds a workshop to discuss the contents of the Risks and
Options Report and invites Simon Terry and a representative from ERMA to
present.
- That subject to WDC and FNDC decisions, KDC set aside $10,000 to
contribute to a collaborative community consultation programme on the
GMO risks and response options.

The WCC after receiving the documentation resolved:

- That the Council's GE free status be stated in the Long Term Council
Community Plan 2006/2016 under the Strong Innovative Economy Strategic
Platform.
- That Council supports option 2 and works with the territorial
authorities in the Northern Region in their joint consultation process.

The RDC similarly resolved:

- That the Council supports a joint collaborative approach to
investigating a regulatory response to the field release of GMOs and
that subject to the participation of all contributing councils, that a
process of public consultation as defined in the briefing paper on the
GE initiative including a telephone poll and a notification and
submission process be supported.
- That the Committee authorise the expenditure of $10,000 for the
purposes of undertaking community consultation as a component of a
section 32 analysis.

Both councils resolved to lobby Government to address the issue of
regulatory gaps in the Hazardous Substances and New organisms Act 1996
and the resulting environmental, economic and liability risks which are
faced by local government in respect of the field release of GMOs.

Thus, both the WCC and RDC have determined that the risks outlined in
the Risks and Options Report on GE, including questions over liability,
do warrant further investigation by local government on the Northland
peninsula. Both councils have resolved to take a precautionary approach
towards the risks involved with the release of GMOs to the environment
and continue to support a northern regional approach to further
investigations into a possible regional regulatory regime designed to
minimise the risks and resolve questions over liability. And both
councils have agreed to participate in and jointly fund a community
consultation programme in collaboration with other territorial
authorities on the Northland peninsula to gauge the level of community
support for managing GMO land uses at a local and/or regional level.

In line with the resolutions from WCC and RDC, it is recommended that
the WDC continues to support a collaborative, regional approach to the
management of GMO land uses and that, subject to the participation of
all or most Northland peninsula territorial authorities, a process of
public consultation as outlined in the Briefing Paper on GE Initiative
be supported. Such a stance would honour the commitment made by the WDC
to the community in its 2004 Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP).
Outstanding issues, such as liability, economic costs and benefits,
environmental risks, and cultural effects have not been resolved and
therefore the policy adopted in the LTCCP requires Council to continue
to investigate ways to maintain the district's environment free of GMOs
until such time as they are resolved.

In particular, the outstanding questions over liability to both Council
and existing primary producers and tourist operators from potential
environmental damage and economic loss caused by the release of GMOs to
the environment warrants the continuation of a precautionary approach by
Council to permitting GMO land uses within the District and/or region.
Because it is ultimately the community who will be required to accept
that liability and carry the costs involved it is considered a proactive
and democratic course of action for council to consult with its
community over the level of risk they are willing to accept regarding
the introduction of GMO land uses to the district/region.

Council does not need to make a further budgetary commitment for the
consultation programme as there are sufficient funds already allocated
for GE investigations to cover the estimated $10,000 cost.


Recommendations

1.  That the following documents be received:
- Community Management of GMOs II: Risks and Response Options
- Review of GE Issues and Options Report for Whangarei District Council
- Legal Opinion on Land Use Controls and GMOs
- Briefing Paper on GE Initiative

2. That Council adopts a precautionary stance to the risks posed by the
release of GMOs to the environment and continues to work in
collaboration with other territorial authorities on the Northland
peninsula to reduce those risks to a level acceptable to the community.

3. That, subject to the agreement of all or most territorial authorities
on the Northland peninsula, Council participates in and jointly funds a
collaborative community consultation programme to gauge (a) the level of
community support for local/regional regulation of GMO land uses and (b)
the level of risk the community is willing to carry in relation to those
land uses, i.e. which of the options outlined in the Risks and Options
Report is preferred. The consultation programme would be structured as
outlined in the Briefing Paper on GE Initiative, i.e. a joint telephone
survey/submission-consultation process.

4. That Council continues to lobby the Government to address the
regulatory gaps in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
and the resulting environmental, economic and liability risks which are
faced by local government in respect of the field release of genetically
modified organisms.


Attachment:
Briefing Paper on GE Initiative
<http://www.wdc.govt.nz/agendas_online/CL_1022006/r677140.pdf>

--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

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