Hastings district will remain a GM-Free food producing region despite an appeal through the Environment Court seeking to overturn the Hastings District Council’s district plan.
In 2015 the council became the first in New Zealand to secure Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) free status, but this was appealed by Federated Farmers through the Environment Court.
In its recent ruling, the Environment Court issued a consent order upholding the council’s decision to prohibit the outdoor release and field trials of GMOs – a decision welcomed by the council and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc who have worked together to protect and safeguard the environment.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said that a Colmar Brunton poll conducted in 2012 showed that 84 per cent of Hawke’s Bay residents surveyed wanted the region to have GM-Free status for its food production.
“We are delighted with this outcome that supports our growers, our people and local iwi in the common desire to protect our environment and give our region a strong marketing advantage when promoting our products for export.
“It positions us to grow our regional economy and create jobs as well as ensure safe farming practices and food safety.
“As a council we heard the message loud and clear from the wider community that they supported GM-Free food production for Hastings, and this decision is a positive result that we have been able to bring about through our planning processes.”
Mayor Hazlehurst said the policy decision by council also supported Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi’s stance, with the two organisations closely aligned on the issue.
For Ngāti Kahungunu, being a GE-Free food producing region was part of its 25-year iwi vision to safeguard the natural environment and its resources, said chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana.
“This status reflects our relationship with our ancestral lands, water and taonga within our rohe.
“It is also consistent with our role as kaitiaki over the natural world and our resources, keeping them safe from damage through genetic modification.”
The rules in the district plan would prohibit the release and field trials of GMO crops, but would not prohibit GMOs involved in laboratory research or GMO-based products for medicinal or veterinary use.
Posted: 4 August 2018