GE hear­ing

Whangarei Report - - OPINION -

Over 30th /31st Oc­to­ber a sig­nif­i­cant hear­ing on Ge­netic En­gi­neer­ing and Ge­net­i­cally Mod­i­fi­ca­tions Or­gan­isms (GE/ GMOS) sub­mis­sions to the New Re­gional Plan for North­land is to be held. At present the Re­gional Plan has pre­cau­tion­ary state­ments on GE/GMOS. This hear­ing will be held by the Coun­cil — a de­par­ture from the usual method of hold­ing th­ese hear­ings be­fore two in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers and one coun­cil mem­ber. There will be no in­de­pen­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the hear­ing!

Over the years this sci­ence has been de­vel­op­ing, all Coun­cils of North Auck­land, in­clud­ing Greater Auck­land , have had pre­cau­tion­ary state­ments on GE/GMOS writ­ten into their ap­pro­pri­ate plans. The In­ter­coun­cil Work­ing Party on GE/ GMOS mon­i­tors this sci­ence.

The ba­sic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the NRC are to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and ecol­ogy, the health of the peo­ple, the so­cial fab­ric, the cul­tural val­ues, the eco­nomics, the wa­ter­ways in­clud­ing the shores, roads and other com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­fra­struc­tures of the whole of North­land. GE/GMOS threaten all of th­ese ar­eas. Eco­nom­i­cally, North­land re­lies mostly on agri­cul­tural prod­ucts: dairy, meat, wool, or­chards, hor­ti­cul­ture , honey, wood. None of our present trad­ing part­ners ac­cept goods af­fected by GE/ GMOS. A care­less in­tro­duc­tion of this sci­ence could prove an eco­nomic dis­as­ter for New Zealand, not just North­land.

The ef­fects of GE/ GMOS on the en­vi­ron­ment can­not be pre­dicted. Much of this sci­ence is still at the early dis­cov­ery stages.

Once in the en­vi­ron­ment a GMO can­not be re­cov­ered, e.g. , it would be im­pos­si­ble to re­cover the spread of pollen from a GE grass.

Any ex­per­i­ments would need to be in closed lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions. The costs of clean­ing up af­ter, and com­pen­sat­ing for, a danger­ous re­sult or an es­cape need to be taken by those ex­per­i­ment­ing.

The EU has just banned all meth­ods of cre­at­ing GMOS, in­clud­ing the new gene edit­ing meth­ods, of GE.

Th­ese are some of the rea­sons we have pre­cau­tion­ary state­ments in our reg­u­la­tions.

NRC is plan­ning to re­move the pre­cau­tion­ary state­ments from its New Re­gional Plan for North­land.

New Zealand is al­ready bur­dened with an­i­mal and plant pests and dis­eases in­tro­duced with­out fore­sight.

We need to con­tinue to have pre­cau­tion­ary state­ments, or at least have a fair say.

_ M.mcdon­ald.

Whanga¯ rei

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