Growers and exporters in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay have welcomed news the country’s federal government has backed down from amendments to the Resource Management Act (RMA) relating to GM crops.
The move comes after last minute changes were made to the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. An amendment negotiated by the Maori Party exempts GM crops from the scope of new ministerial powers overriding local decision-making under clause 360D of the RMA.
Bruno Chambers, president of lobby group Pure Hawke’s Bay, says the best outcome for the region would have been the removal of 360D all together.
“While the exemption is not as wide as what Pure Hawke’s Bay has called for, it protects Hawke’s Bay’s right to decide on the GMOs most likely to come forward in the foreseebale future,” Chambers explained.
Pure Hawke’s Bay understands the exemption covers GM crops and any outdoor growing of GM crops, whether experimental or commercial. This was confirmed by Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, who sponsored the amendment.
“The Maori Party supports these amendments on the understanding that, as negotiated with the Government, they preserve the regions’ ability under local plans to regulate all types of GM crops in their territories including forestry and grasses and any activities involving the growing of GM crops whether for commercial or other purposes,” Fox told parliament.
The exemption does not affect what rules councils can introduce on GMOs. It limits what the country's environmental minister of the day could rule on, were he/she to use the powers.