Federated Farmers has pulled out of attempts to overturn plans to ban GMO testing and growing by a number of local authorities.

The national farming lobby group had taken several court actions and subsequent appeals against Whangārei, Far North, Auckland and Hastings councils' plan changes which would essentially enable them to prohibit outdoor trials of Genetically Modified Organisms.

Federated Farmers argued that the Government's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) regulations were protection enough, and local government's measures unnecessary.

In New Zealand, it is illegal to import, develop, field test or release a genetically modified organism (GMO) without approval from the EPA.


The courts continued to find local authorities have the right under the Resource Management Act (RMA) to set their own policies and rules.

Federated Farmers received a stinging criticism for its stance by Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook last month, regarding Whangārei District Council's defence of its plan.

Now the farmers' group has said it will pull all its outstanding appeals around the country.

In withdrawing from those legal challenges, president Katie Milne said it would reassess its challenges of regional GMO policy "in the future".

GE Free Northland president Zelka Grammer said her group was grateful to Milne for ensuring current litigation against various councils' plan changes was withdrawn.

"This is in the interest of all New Zealand farmers and primary producers, including FFNZ members, and allows councils to proceed with sound GMO policies and plans that reflect the needs of local primary producers and communities," Grammer said.

"GE Free Northland thanks our hard working local councils for acting on their duty of care to local constituents and the environment, creating a much needed additional tier of local protection against the risks of outdoor use of GMOs."

Soil and Health national council member Marion Thomson said the withdrawal of legal challenges meant "bit of a reprieve" from a constant fight.