Previously known as Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics PSRGNZ - Charitable Trust
As required under the new 2005 Charities Act, PSGR has reregistered as a charitable trust.

 4 December 2011

  

Northland Regional Council

Private Bag 9021

Whangarei Mail Centre

WHANGAREI 0148

 

For the attention of the RPS Project Manager and all Councillors

 

Dear Councillors

 

From previous correspondence you will know that Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility urge the utmost caution in regard to genetic engineering/modification and the organisms this technology can produce.  We advocate that genetically engineered organisms should not be released into any environment.  We have urged Northland Councils to apply measures to restrict the release of genetically engineered organisms for economic, environmental, cultural and social concerns, and because of the inherent risks of these novel organisms

 

PSGR asks that Northland Regional Council (NRC) correct a serious omission in its draft RPS document.  We understand it does not mention the Council's precautionary policy on genetic engineering or the communities’ precautionary policy in the Ten Year Community Plan.  The NRC draft RPS document should contain a strong precautionary policy on genetic engineering.  PSGR requests that this is corrected in the NRC’s new RPS and that these novel organisms are included in the list of Issues of Regional Significance.

We understand all Councils from Auckland to Cape Reinga are undertaking a collaborative section 32 analysis on genetically engineered organisms, with a view towards some type of local regulation of these novel organisms, which could include total prohibition.  This includes Auckland Council as well as all Northland territorial authorities.  As a full member of the Northland/Auckland Inter Council Working Party on GMO Risk Evaluation and Management, PSGR asks that you support fully their findings and alter your draft RPS.

Our request is in keeping with your own precautionary policy on genetic engineering in the operative Long Term Council Community Plan 2009/19; that is, the NRC Ten Year Community Plan, and with your own proposal for a precautionary provision in the NRC RPS Discussion Document 2010.  We understand you received the largest number of submissions supporting a precautionary provision on genetic engineering as proposed by the NRC, and requesting the precautionary statement be strengthened with clearly defining language such as was used in the adopted LTCCP's 2006/16 and 2004/14, and which was removed during the review of the LTCCP 2009/19; the former Chairman then stating that the place for such a statement was in your RPS.

The NRC adopted LTCCP 2004/14 and 2006/16, stating:  “The Regional Council is a member of a Northland Inter-Council Working Group to discuss a common approach to the management of genetically modified organisms in Northland.  Until this group has completed its work, the council has decided to adopt a precautionary approach.  This means that there should be no further development and field testing of transgenic organisms envisaged for agriculture, horticulture and forestry in Northland, nor any commercial release, until the risk potential has been adequately identified and evaluated and a strict liability regime put in place.”

PSGR understands that the NRC confirmed its commitment to a precautionary approach to genetically engineered organisms in Northland at the l5 November 2011 NRC full Council meeting.

We also understand that all Iwi in Tai Tokerau made submissions as key stakeholders to the NRC RPS stating their opposition to these novel organisms in Northland through their environmental management plans submitted to the NRC RPS.  This was based on environmental, economic, cultural and social reasons and should be acknowledged by the NRC.

PSGR urges the NRC to support the collaborative section 32 analysis on genetically engineered organisms being undertaken by all Northland territorial authorities and Auckland Council.

The fact that New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Agency is not required under the HSNO Act to take a precautionary approach to these novel organisms, presents serious risks.  The precautionary principle must be applied by prohibiting releases for the safety of New Zealanders, our agricultural, forestry and tourism industries, and the environment.   Local legislation should specifically identify these novel organisms as a threat.

The release of these novel, self-replicating organisms into any environment is irreversible.

We recommend you access our website for further information; www.psgr.org.nz.

 

On behalf of the Trustees of Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility Jean Anderson