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23, May, 2014

Court decision keeps NZ GE-free


Category: Soil & Health Association of NZ

A recent High Court decision is a victory for New Zealand consumers, farmers and foresters, says the Soil & Health Association. The High Court ruled against a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that two new plant breeding techniques were not genetic engineering techniques.

Soil & Health welcomes the court ruling. Without it New Zealand would have lost its status and international reputation as a producer of GE-free food and fibre.

“If the EPA’s decision had not been challenged and found wanting, plants bred using these GE techniques could have been planted in New Zealand without any public consultation or monitoring of their effects,” said Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health.

“There are other new techniques like this, and they must all be thoroughly and independently scrutinised and the precautionary principle applied. Otherwise, it’s an uncontrolled experiment that could have adverse effects for people, animals and the environment.”

The High Court ruled that the EPA had misinterpreted the law and that it had failed to apply the precautionary principle.

“Soil & Health is concerned about the ability of the EPA to protect our environment,” says Thomson. “We commend the Sustainability Council for challenging the EPA’s decision, but we should not have to rely on not-for-profit watchdog organisations to protect our environment. That is the job of the EPA, and we urge them to apply the precautionary principle in any similar decisions in future.”

Soil & Health has been informing its members and the public about genetic engineering for over 25 years. It has played a key role in advocating for a GE-free New Zealand for health, environmental, economic and other reasons. The New Zealand public, and our key markets, have consistently opposed genetic engineering in food and the environment.