Northland's GE status is free of yet another longstanding challenge after Federated Farmers ditched an appeal only weeks before the matter was to be heard in court.

The farmers' group has withdrawn its latest challenge to Northland Regional Council's (NRC) precautionary stance banning outdoor and field experiments of genetically modified plant and animal materials.

The now abandoned Court of Appeal hearing that was initiated in 2015 would have followed two cases Federated Farmers has already lost in trying to overturn the NRC anti-GE policy.

They were in the Environment Court and High Court.


GE-Free Northland has criticised the farmers' group for forcing the regional council to defend its policy at considerable cost to the ratepayers who had already demonstrated their support for the policy.

"While our community group is delighted that Federated Farmers have finally withdrawn their vexatious appeals against the Northland Regional Policy Statement, we note that FFNZ waited until just three weeks before the Court of Appeal date in Wellington to finally make the right decision," GE Free Northland spokesman Martin Robinson said.

"In our view, FFNZ not only wasted their own members' hard-earned money and resources, but Northland councils' and ratepayers' time and money as well."

GE-Free Northland and the Soil and Health Association say Federated Farmers should now withdraw similar appeals against GE-free measures by the Far North, Auckland, Whangarei and Hastings councils.

Federated Farmers disputes the right of local councils to put in place precautionary GMO provisions, saying it is the role of the Government agency Environmental Protection Authority, under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO).