The fight to keep Hawke's Bay GM free took another step forward yesterday, when members of the Pure Hawke's Bay Group presented to a parliamentary select committee in Auckland.
Scott Lawson, John Bostock, and Pure Hawke's Bay president Bruno Chambers spoke in opposition to changes in section 360D of the Resource Management Act Amendment Bill.
Those changes were said to allow the Government to dictate to regions what types of land use can occur in their territories and to override local community planning initiatives.
A target of the proposed changes were regional GM Free food producer zones, which were being developed in several regions following years of planning and community consultation. This included Hawke's Bay, where food producers were working to secure the region's current GM Free food producer status, both to protect against economic risk and create branding opportunities for the local economy.
While this was the first hearing in an ongoing process, Mr Chambers said they hoped their submission would add weight to the argument, and ensure the changes did not go ahead.
"We're hopeful that they will listen to us," he said.
"The indicators are there, with the level of opposition it'll be very unlikely that the bill goes forward as it is," he said. "We'd love to see the bill in this current form struck out."
He said Hastings District Council had also made a submission yesterday, and he thought there would be a significant number of amendments made because of the opposition from producer groups, councils, and other interested parties.
Pure Hawke's Bay will be continuing to lobby Parliament to "make sure they consign this to the rubbish bin", Mr Chambers said.
Later this year Hastings District Council will head to the Environment Court to defend its genetically modified organism free policy, which is currently being appealed by Federated Farmers.
In May last year, backed by leading Hawke's Bay food producers, Hastings District Council became the first in New Zealand to secure the territory's GMO free food producer status under its district plan. Despite this initiative enjoying support from producers and the community, the court case still looms.
The GMO free district plan policy change being challenged by Federated Farmers was made last year under the Resource Management Act.