Federated Farmers agrees with Environment Minister Amy Adams that the regulation of genetically modified organisms should be a matter for central government not local bodies.
“Federated Farmers would welcome amendment to the Resource Management Act to “clarify the respective functions and roles of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and local government,” as the Minister put it,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government spokesperson.
“We are not overly impressed with some councils wasting ratepayer resources on trying to ape the EPA. As Minister Adams put it, councils should not “set up their own independent states where they write their own rules and ignore the national framework”.
“Especially when those rules are based on what seems to be ‘pub-talk’.
“A Northland inter-council working party’s draft section 32 analysis recommending ‘local regulation’ to restrict GMO’s, only references one website known for its anti GMO stance, one anti-GMO book and one of the key proponents for local regulation.
“A section 32 analysis should be based on sound science but this analysis is neither unbiased nor rigorous. It puts these councils on a collision course with the EPA, which does possess the brainpower and resources to test more than an internet search engine.
“Bizarrely, the Northland inter-council working party’s analysis makes no mention of the GMO based equine influenza vaccine, which is currently approved for conditional release in New Zealand.
“Nor, I must add, what the cost to Northland’s bloodstock and racing industries would be if councils tried to block its use.
“That’s why the legality of councils regulating GMOs is highly questionable.
“Federated Farmers view, shared by Minister Adams, is that the only appropriate way to make these decisions is through careful scrutiny of the science. We entrust the EPA with the scientific and funding resources to make these types of scientific assessments.
“Councils need to stick to their knitting and regulating GMO’s is not it,” Katie Milne concluded.
Councils, often rightly, complain about obligations and subsequent costs imposed on them by central government.
They should be relieved that this is one responsibility they aren’t required to shoulder.
Councils are unlikely to have the expertise to properly evaluate GMOs and more likely to be swayed by emotion than science, as most opposed to them are.