Press Release – Federated Farmers
Feds Says GMO Decision Shows Law Is Short-sighted
The full potential of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will never be realised if central government is not given full jurisdiction to regulate their use says Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston.
“GMO technology is powerful and as such should be used responsibly and be appropriately regulated at central government level, not regional council level.
“Regional authorities are not appropriately equipped trying to regulate GMOs which may mean new emerging science which can have considerable benefit for our country will never get off the ground.
“It is notable that the High Court has stopped short of confirming that it is appropriate for councils to ban the technology, rather it has confirmed that councils have the right to control the effects of GMOs, such as a plant’s growth rate, if this is to have an environmental impact just as it has with any other organism,” says Dr Rolleston.
“The question of whether a council has the right to control an organism simply for the reason it is a GMO, has not been confirmed and this leaves that critical question open.
“Minister Barry told us earlier this month that New Zealand’s ambitious goal of becoming predator free by 2050 will need new technologies. Banning new technologies such as genetic modification, as some councils have done due to activist pressure, is asking us to achieve the impossible with one hand tied behind our back,” says Dr Rolleston.
This isn’t just about the primary industries. It’s worth pointing out that none of the opponents are discussing the Pexa-Vec liver cancer trial which received GMO release approval by the EPA last year.
This cancer trial has the potential to extend or even save the lives of 300 Auckland patients per year but the ruling today means the trial may be stopped in its tracks due to Auckland Council’s GMO rule changes under the Auckland Unitary Plan.
“This is a discussion all New Zealanders should be having – whether they’re comfortable with their local government making sweeping decisions around advanced scientific technology,” says Dr Rolleston.
“The Environmental Protection Agency has some of New Zealand’s leading scientists who are more appropriately qualified to regulate, manage and approve the use of GMOs in our country.
“We again reiterate that the public needs to take notice when more than 100 leading scientists ask environmental groups to end their opposition to genetic modification in food production.
“Is this purely emotional, when the scientific consensus is that the use of genetic modification is as safe as conventional breeding?.”
The only appropriate way to make these GMO 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 on behalf of all New Zealanders.