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.