GMO risks subject of workshop

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 08/04/2014

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Worries about the potential impact of accidents with genetically modified organisms on Palmerston North's environment have been put on the city council's agenda.

The subject arose as the planning and policy committee recommended going ahead with a review of the Hazardous Substances section of the District Plan.

Many of the provisions in the section will be deleted and the rest simplified as the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act has made it largely redundant.

Policy planner Michael Duindam said the act covered rules about the safe handling, storage and transport of hazardous substances.

The remaining role for councils was to manage the impacts hazardous waste facilities might have on the environment beyond their boundaries.

However, committee chairwoman Annette Nixon said she was concerned the plan did not deal with new organisms at all.

Other councils around the country, including in Northland, Auckland and Hawke's Bay, had begun work on their rules to ensure the risks posed by new organisms were managed.

Council consultant Lucy Cooper from Perception Planning said most issues about new organisms were handled under the Environmental Protection Authority.

The council would need to be sure it was not duplicating its work.

"A good understanding of the local context would be helpful, to identify where the District Plan could add value in achieving environmental outcomes."

The committee has asked for a workshop to be set up to evaluate the risks posed by genetically modified organisms, and look at what the council should do to mitigate the risks.

Duindam said the issue would be best tackled separately from the hazardous substances section, as any submissions received about new organisms would be outside the scope of the review. However, the public advertisement of the proposed change could signal that the council intended to pick up the issue later.

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- Manawatu Standard

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