First Stake in the Ground to Keep Hastings GM Free

A group of Hawke’s Bay food producers have launched a campaign to keep Hastings GMO Free as the Hastings Council prepares to go head to head with Federated Farmers and the Government.

Pure Hawke’s Bay today put its first stake in the ground, putting up billboards around the region to raise awareness and gain support in the fight to keep Hastings GMO Free.

Pure Hawke’s Bay President, and sheep and beef farmer Bruno Chambers says having a GMO Free region creates more economic and marketing opportunities.

“It means as Hastings producers we can tell buyers and customers that produce grown in our fields is officially GMO Free. If we can’t claim this, we lose our competitive global advantage. We need to tell the GM Free story and officially show the world that we grow produce naturally.

“It adds more value to our exports and creates significant economic benefits for Hawke’s Bay.”

Last year, backed by leading Hawke’s Bay food producers, Hastings District Council became the first in New Zealand to secure the territory’s GM Free food producer status under the local plan.

While this initiative enjoys overall support from producers and the wider community, Federated Farmers is challenging the Hastings decision in the Environment Court.

As well as this, the councils move is also threatened by proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), which would see the government take away councils powers to establish GM Free Zones.

“Hawke’s Bay food producers and the Hastings Council are best placed to know what is right for our local economy. We shouldn’t have this democratic right taken away. We need the government to work alongside us to keep Hastings GMO Free and help position Hawke’s Bay as a premium food-producing region in the competitive global market place.”

Mr Chambers along with over 100 other growers, pastoral farmers and exporters are on a mission to drum up support to protect the regions high value food exports.

“Pure Hawke’s Bay will be backing Hastings District Council in court and has started a significant fundraising drive to raise the $150,000 needed to put forward a winning legal and economic case.

“We are confident we can secure Hastings’ valuable GM Free status in law, but Hawke’s Bay’s support is crucial to winning this legal battle and influencing politicians when it comes to making decisions on the RMA changes.”

Mr Chambers says Pure Hawke’s Bay is keen to hear from anyone keen to put up a GM Free billboard on their property or support the campaign in any way.

A Colmar Brunton poll found 85% of Hawke’s Bay want local authorities to secure the regions GM Free status.

Hastings is not the only council to be taking this path. Auckland City, Whangarei and the Far North are also poised to adopt similar GMO Free rules, after more than a decade of planning and community consultation.

“Regions around New Zealand recognise that being GMO Free has huge benefits to helping grow our regional economies and create more jobs,  ” said Mr Chambers.

“Seventeen countries through Europe and some Australian states have declared themselves GM Free. Also, GM free produce was the fastest growing food category in USA last year. There is a wave of demand in our export markets for clean safe GM free food and New Zealand is ideally placed to take advantage of this.”

 

For further information contact Bruno Chambers 0274762635

If you would like to support Pure Hawke’s Bay and a GM Free Region visit purehawkes.org/donations or email info@purehawkesbay.org

Background Information

  • Rules in the Hastings District Plan prohibit commercial release and field trialling of GMOs. They do not cover medical uses of GM, laboratory-contained use or the use of veterinary vaccines. The rules last for the life of the plan – a ten-year period – and are then reviewed.
  • Shortly after the Council released its new plan, 19 is it 17 or 19? European Union countries (more than two thirds of the single market’s arable land) announced bans on GM crops in their territories.
  • Meanwhile, states in neighbouring Australia (Tasmania and South Australia) are using their official GM Free status to boost the value of their food exports.
  • Federated Farmers Wellington office opposes regional GM Free zones and has gone to the Environment Court to try to overturn the Hastings Council policy. But the Federation does not enjoy the support of all its Hawkes’ Bay members or other industry representatives, such as Horticulture New Zealand, which has come out in favour of the Hastings position. And a previous legal bid by the Wellington office to overturn local policy on GM failed, when the Environment Court ruled that regional councils do have jurisdiction over GMOs.
  • RMA Proposed Changes include amendment to S360D which will give the government sweeping powers to dictate law to the regions across a range of issues, including GMO’s.
  • The Government contends that the regions are just duplicating the role of the national regulator – the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) – and that only Wellington should make decisions about GMO releases. Hawke’s Bay food producers and Hastings Council say that they are best placed to know what is right for their local economy
  • This year could see the fate of GM Free regions decided.
  • In February, Federated Farmers are back in court, in a last ditch attempt to overturn the Northland ruling.
  • Then it will be Hastings turn – a legal battle that Hawke’s Bay food producers believe they and the Council can win.
  • Hawke’s Bay producers are are gearing up for the RMA fight, and are convinced that Parliament will see the value of preserving the GM Free region option.

Comments are closed.