Northern News : March 16th 2011
10 NORTHERN NEWS, MARCH 16, 2011 OPINION GE group opposes forestry trials By ZELKA GRAMMER GE Free Northland OPINION -- NORTHLANDERS HAVE THEIR SAY Passionate: Zelka Grammer. Photo: TIM VALLINGS At this tragic time in New Zealand, with Christchurch subjected to further earthquakes and loss of life, priorities have shifted. And yet, just as Rural Women NZ has called for its members to mobilise to assist those in need, the rural sector must stay strong to support New Zealand s economy. Therefore any threat to our biosecurity or primary producers, the backbone of the economy, must be antici- pated and avoided. Forestry Stewardship Council certification enables Northland s forests to have access to key markets and the ability to obtain premiums for our trees. Genetic engineer- ing of trees -- prohibited by the stewardship council in council certified forests due to the risks to our environment and biosecurity -- presents a very real threat. A prestigious global certifi- cation body, the stewardship council only endorses truly sustainable forestry practices and its position on GE is very clear: We do not allow genetic engineering of trees. The Environmental Risk Management Authority has rubber-stamped yet another risky GE application for 4000 GE pine trees. The auth- ority s approval was given to Scion, a Crown research institute, despite an embar- rassing history of approving completely unproductive GE experiments that do not ben- efit us in any way. Officially known as New Zealand Forest Research Institute, Scion has in the past been in breach of auth- ority rules during a previous GE experiment at Rotorua. I guess all you have to do these days is change the name of your organisation and carry on with the same shoddy practices while the authority looks the other way. The authority s disregard for the concerns expressed in the submission by Environ- ment Bay of Plenty Regional Council is offensive but not surprising. There is widespread con- cern that Scion will not honour even the minimal con- ditions set by the risk man- agement authority. Scion has asked to have secret GE pine locations. Submitters opposing Scion s application contested this and other aspects of the application. The activities carry acknowledged risks -- includ- ing risks to Forestry Stew- ardship Council certified foresters, as recognised by the applicant. Should a forester believe the controls placed by ERMA improperly reflect the risks the trial poses to his/her busi- ness, then knowing the location of the trial will allow him/her to take further precautions. There is concern in North- land about the proposal by Scion to experiment with 4000 GE pine trees outdoors. The Northland Conservation Board and Bay of Plenty Regional Council joined hun- dreds of other Submitters opposing this risky appli- cation. Part of the threat from GE pine trees comes from the dangers of transgenic pol- lution from GE pine pollen. Another risk is lowered productivity from toppling and snapping of pines that already are prone to that problem. GE pines could also cost a neighbouring forester or property owner their hard won Forestry Stewardship Council certification. The council has identified other scientific concerns including asexual transfer of genes from GMOs with anti- biotic resistance to patho- genic micro-organisms, increased resistance of target insect pests, reduced adapta- bility to environmental stresses, increased weediness or invasiveness in GMO trees with new features and the spread of herbicide resistance genes. These hazards and the uncertainties about them are the reason for the prohibition of the use of GMOs in stew- ardship council certified forests. The decision means ERMA has initially granted Scion permission for the trees at its Rotorua site but also stated Scion could apply for alterna- tive and secret sites if necess- ary. It is an alarming develop- ment that Crown institutes like Scion and AgResearch are applying for both GE field trials and conditional release of transgenic animals to undisclosed locations. Council planning process 'a hoax and pretence' Outspoken: Mark Shanks. By MARK SHANKS Kaitaia It is very gracious of deputy mayor Ann Court to urge ratepayers to tell us what you think when it comes to feedback regarding yet another annual plan from the Far North District Council. (Topix, Northern News, March 2). So since you ask Ann, here are my thoughts. The entire top-down coun- cil planning process is a hoax, and the pretence of consul- tation is an insult to everyone s intelligence. In addition, the endless writing of glossy plans squan- der vital resources and are a dismal substitute for any real delivery of work. Just look at the expensive shipload of previous plans and see how much was ever implemented. Most sank without a trace! It is also very sad, Ann, that you feel that annual planning time is the only time we really engage at a district level with the entire community . Therein lies the farce of local government. Once a year we have an opportunity to make a sub- mission to the pious judgements generated by council bureaucrats. I say consult with the people before you write your plan because only then will it truly reflect the wishes of the people. By the way, I have person- ally made countless submissions to all number of council plans over the last 18 years and not once have my ideas been discussed beyond the five-minute time-slot for presentation. I am granted an audience by the council hierarchy (at my expense I might add as I have to take time off work), a sanctimonious thank you and then nothing is ever followed up.Another thing that is very annoying is the pejorative terminology which only emphasises the power- lessness of the ratepayers. We must surrender to our servants and make a sub- mission, by definition some- thing less or below (in value) than the mission (as formulated by our servants). Councillor Court plays poli- tics in her regular column, but politics is vastly different from government if the latter is conceived as the rational, responsible ordering of the community as a whole. This can only come about with constant consultation leading to well-drawn-up, long-term plans for each and every community in the Far North and a willingness to change the way we do things, because the existing planning process has never delivered on its promise. It s crazy and utterly wasteful to continue doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. There is a better way. The best and most achiev- able ideas come from the people within the community itself. The council s job should be to develop communities by discovering, mapping and mobilising all their local assets. These include: The skills of its citizens, from youth to disabled people, from thriving profes- sionals to starving artists The dedication of its citizens associations, churches, culture groups, clubs, neighbourhood associ- ations The resources of its formal institutions, businesses, schools, libraries, hospitals, parks, and social service agencies. By using these resources in imaginative ways, and bring- ing them into creative syn- ergy with each other, there can be dramatic results within the community. This is a truly democratic approach that is relatively cheap, effective and empowering, and one that avoids paternalism and dependence because it has grown from the bottom-up. I suggest we need to sub- vert the current planning process by making the council submit to the community -- to present submissions to us on how they will support the delivery of the action plan developed by each unique Far North community. This could happen at 18-month intervals, halfway through a term of office and then just before local body elections so ratepayers can see how well the incumbent administration has prog- ressed on service provision and the development of infra- structure. The measure of perform- ance would be self-evident and provide a sound basis for the casting of your vote. Prepare for the worst to come and you will have nothing to fear By GORDON BANFIELD Paihia For several generations now we in the west have lived a charmed life, having just about all we need to be com- fortable -- we being about 30 percent of the world s popu- lation. But now the other 70 percent are demanding -- and will get -- similar benefits to us.They deserve to have all these things. We actually try and sell a lot of good things to them. We cannot suggest that they must stay at the same low level. In fact, we encour- age them to lift their standards. They, like us, deserve to lift their living standards. The matter that we all need to come to terms with is that this small world just does not have enough resources to lift everyone in it to our level of benefits. There is just not enough food, fuel, cars, houses, edu- cation facilities and so on for the whole world to live at our standards. Even now, we are seeing the results of these extra numbers requiring the milk, the butter, the meat, the oil. All these are going up in price because of all the extra customers. This process must, and will, continue. We will just have to pay more and live on less because of it. This is happening around us now and the next gener- ation will not have the same level of pensions and benefits that we now enjoy because of what is happening in the world. Those on benefits and those working on the minimum wage will suffer the most. Maori, and others who make good use of their land to grow food and to develop a high level of self-sufficiency will do okay. Those that don t will suffer badly. The next few years will test our resolve to better make use of what we have. Lawns will no longer be better than a good garden. Fish will replace meat for those who can row out to their favourite spot. Those on benefits should rush out and do the education thing otherwise they have much to fear. Those in debt must reduce it and live on what they earn. Some have good reason to be seriously afraid. Parents need to encourage their chil- dren to better understand how and where the world is heading. It is going to be different in many ways. These things are happening around us as we speak. It is not something that might happen later. The rise in prices is the first signs of the stress that comes about as more people try to get a bigger part of less. We cannot stop this rush of millions to improve them- selves. We just have to understand that we are going to have much less of everything. We will have to work harder for the same things. We must waste less. We must develop our self sufficiency as never before. Chooks and gardens will come back as will fruit trees. More people will live in houses as we make better use of assets. As we share the world s benefits with others the bal- ance must swing. Some will hurt badly, but it need not be that bad if we play our cards right. If we are prepared we will have no reason to fear.
March 9th 2011
March 23rd 2011