Certified timber exports as well as the environment will be put at risk if Genetically Engineered Trees are included in the National Environment Standard for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).
Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) does not allow GE trees and is an important quality mark for timber exports.
Minister for the Environment the Hon. Nick Smith and his caucus colleagues will soon be signing off the NES-PF and are being urged to remove the GE-tree clause.
The GE-tree clause, if enacted, would removes the democratic process around protections for the community and environment given through the RMA.
The clause would make the planting of GE Trees a permitted activity if approved by the EPA. This would override any Council precautionary GE provisions placed in regional plans including in Hawkes Bay and Northland.
The dangers of genetically modified trees for New Zealand’s ecosystems, including essential soil organisms, plants, birds, and insects could be widespread, permanent, and economically damaging.
“The effects could be detrimental to forestry companies wanting to certify and add value to their exports,” says Jon Carapiet spokesman for GE-Free NZ.
Independent scientists warn that GE-trees threaten biodiversity and trophic systems, and would undermine what the RMA is designed to protect.
National Party MP’s have been contacted and asked to intervene with the Minister to remove the GE-tree clause. More then 16,000 submissions opposed the clause when the plan when was open for public consultation.