Tag Archives: new zealand

New Zealand may kick start race to mine the ocean floor

By Sonali Paul and Gyles Beckford, June 15, 2014. Source: Reuters


Photo from http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/04fire/logs/hirez/champagne_vent_hirez.jpg

Photo from http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/04fire/logs/hirez/champagne_vent_hirez.jpg

New Zealand decides this week whether to approve an underwater iron-ore operation that would likely become the world’s first commercial metals mine at the bottom of the sea.

A green light to allow New Zealand’s Trans Tasman Resources Ltd to start iron-ore dredging off the country’s west coast will encourage others looking to mine copper, cobalt, manganese and other metals deeper on the ocean floor but worried about regulatory hurdles.

Along the Pacific Rim of Fire, as deep as 6,000 metres underwater, volcano crusts, “black smoker” chimneys and vast beds of manganese nodules hold promise for economic powers like China and Japan as well as many poor island states busy pegging stakes on the ocean floor.

“A lot of people are watching the Trans Tasman Resources outcome,” said Michael Johnston, chief executive of Nautilus Minerals, which is working on a deep-sea project off Papua New Guinea and is also in talks with New Zealand.

Other countries in the Pacific looking at underwater mining include Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, which have all issued exploration licenses. Cook Islands in the South Pacific plans to put seabed exploration licenses up for bids later this year. Continue reading

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Filed under Mining, Oceans, Water

Genetically engineered tree industry halted in Oregon, New Zealand

Note: This decision in New Zealand, pulling the reigns on commercial release of genetically engineered (GE) trees, comes on the heels of a major victory against GE crops in Oregon’s Rogue Valley.  Global Justice Ecology Project has learned from county commissioners in Oregon that the recently approved ban does, in fact, cover GE trees (although specific enforcement regulations are yet to be written).

However small, these victories are important in stopping an industry hellbent on turning forests into factories of “designer” trees to fuel the industrial machine.

-The GJEP Team

May 22, 2014. Source: Voxy

Photo: New Zealand Forest Managers

Photo: New Zealand Forest Managers

The High Court decision to uphold the Sustainability Council’s appeal on genetic engineering (GE) is a win for New Zealand’s primary sector, the Green Party said today.

The High Court has upheld the Sustainability Council’s appeal against the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision, which allowed organism’s resulting from new novel GE techniques to be signed off without public consultation. Scion (Forest Research Institute) had asked for a determination which may have allowed them to grow GE trees without public notification or process. This would have also allowed food crops using the same GE techniques to be commercialised without any requirement for public consultation.

“The Court has ruled that the EPA didn’t have the ability to allow these GE organisms to be signed off via a loop hole,” said Green Party GE spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“The original decision would have allowed a free for all using this new GE techniques before the European Union (EU) has even set rules about them. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

New Zealand court challenge to GM pine trees

Note: Notorious genetically engineered tree company ArborGen has operations in New Zealand and one of its joint owners, timber company Rubicon, is based there.

–The GJEP Team

By Geoff Cumming, Nov 2, 2013.  Source: New Zealand Herald

File photo / Alan Gibson File photo / Alan Gibson

A review of regulations covering genetically modified organisms hinges on a High Court case next week challenging approval for GM experiments on our most populous tree, pinus radiata.

The Environmental Protection Authority in April approved an application clearing the way for forest research institute Scion to alter the DNA of pine species using novel technology.

The EPA found that while the technique known as zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN) would produce genetically modified organisms as defined in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, it fitted a category of exemptions listed in the HSNO 1998 regulations.

But while allowing Scion to alter pinus radiata DNA in uncontained experiments, the EPA’s decision notes that the application “highlights the need for a review of the regulations as they are not keeping pace with a rapidly evolving field of science”.  Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

New Zealand: Government cracks down on environmental protesters

By Andrea Vance, March 31 2013. Source: Stuff.co.nz

Photo: Curso ER

Photo: Curso ER

The government is set to crack down on environmental protesters with fines of up to $100,000 or a year in jail for those who target offshore oil and gas operations.

Energy minister Simon Bridges today announced “stronger measures to protect offshore petroleum and minerals activity from unlawful interference”.

Individuals who intentionally damage or interfere with mining structures, like rigs, or vessels face a 12-month prison sentence or a $50,000 fine. Organisations face a penalty of up to $100,000.

Activists who break a 500-metre “no-go” zone around structures would be liable for a $10,000 fine.

Green party MP Gareth Hughes has branded the moves the “Petrobras law” – after the Brazilian oil giant – and said the government was criminalising protests in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Oceans, Oil, Political Repression, Water

Victory! Brazilian oil giant Petrobras dumps New Zealand exploration permits

December 4, 2012.  Source: The New Zealand Herald

Photo: NZ Herald

Photo: NZ Herald

Brazilian oil company Petrobras has handed back exploration licences it holds for deep sea oil and gas prospects in the Raukumara Basin, off East Cape, in what appears a reaction to a string of difficulties which have seen the oil giant report losses for the first time in 13 years.

Prime Minister John Key told The New Zealand Herald that the decision was “not a reflection on the capacity to undertake deep-sea drilling or the prospect of activity of that area.”

The Raukumara Basin lies in very deep water off the east coast of the North Island and has barely been explored. Petrobras contracted a seismic survey ship to undertake initial surveys of parts of the basin early last year, where it encountered stiff opposition from a protest flotilla organised by Greenpeace and a local Maori tribe, Te Whanau a Apanui.

The New Zealand Navy was despatched to ensure the seismic survey could continue.
Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydrofracking, Oceans, Oil, Victory!, Water

GE trees: Crown Research Institute speaks with forked tongue in opposing GMO accountability

13 September, 2012. Source: GE Free NZ

GE Free NZ and Bay of Plenty ratepayers who were original submitters to a local Bay of Plenty plan have received notice of an appeal to the Environment Court, lodged by NZ Crown Research Institute Scion. This appeal contests the Environment Bay of Plenty Regional council’s (BOPRC) “Precautionary approach” to GMO release and field trialling in the region.

It is sheer hypocrisy for Scion to actively oppose council policy designed to protect the public interest. The legal action is in stark contrast to previous claims by Scion that the CRI supports a precautionary approach to GMOs.

Scion has received tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers to develop GM pine trees. Now it is using public money to oppose policies designed to keep it accountable to the communities that fund it.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs

New Zealand Grants a River the Rights of Personhood

by Stephen Messenger, September 8, 2012.  Source: Treehugger.com

Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

From the dawn of history, and in cultures throughout the world, humans have been prone to imbue Earth’s life-giving rivers with qualities of life itself — a fitting tribute, no doubt, to the wellsprings upon which our past (and present) civilizations so heavily rely. But while modern thought has come to regard these essential waterways more clinically over the centuries, that might all be changing once again.

Meet the Whanganui. You might call it a river, but in the eyes of the law, it has the standings of a person.

In a landmark case for the Rights of Nature, officials in New Zealand recently granted the Whanganui, the nation’s third-longest river, with legal personhood “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests”. The decision follows a long court battle for the river’s personhood initiated by the Whanganui River iwi, an indigenous community with strong cultural ties to the waterway.

Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.

“Today’s agreement which recognises the status of the river as Te Awa Tupua (an integrated, living whole) and the inextricable relationship of iwi with the river is a major step towards the resolution of the historical grievances of Whanganui iwi and is important nationally,” says New Zealand’s Minister for Treaty for Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson.

“Whanganui Iwi also recognise the value others place on the river and wanted to ensure that all stakeholders and the river community as a whole are actively engaged in developing the long-term future of the river and ensuring its wellbeing,” says Finlayson.

Although this is likely the first time a single river has been granted such a distinction under the law, chances are it’s not the last. In 2008, Ecuador passed similar ruling giving its forests, lakes, and waterways rights on par with humans in order to ensure their protection from harmful practices.

And, while it may seem an odd extension of rights, in many ways it harkens back to a time when mankind’s fate was more readily acknowledged as being intertwined with that of the rivers, lakes, and streams that sustained us — a time in which our purer instincts towards preserving nature needn’t be dictated by legislation.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Victory!

New Zealand: GE-Weeds Costing Farmers Dearly; Scion Wants to Replant Destroyed GE trees

Wednesday, 2 May 2012, 6:51 pm

From GE Free NZ

The emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds as a result of planting genetically engineered crops is costing farmers dearly and shows the benefits of New Zealand’s GE-free status.

A survey of farmers by BASF has revealed damage from ‘GE-weeds’ has cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

The constant use of proprietary herbicides and insecticides has caused significant problems with weed resistance. GE crops now carry resistant genes to multiple herbicides (stacking). An increase of multiple herbicide tolerant crops is adding to escalating levels of toxic chemicals in food crops.

The Chemical Company, BASF surveyed farmers on the effects of GE weed resistance and found out that farmers were shocked at the negative impact of herbicide tolerant weeds on the economic performance and GE crop yields. Even one resistant weed type has a significant impact on yield reduction. BASF quoted University of Tennessee weed scientist Larry Steckel, saying

“…glyphosate-resistant weeds have had a big financial impact on Tennessee farmers – at least a $200 million effect on their bottom lines”.

New Zealand farmers are also learning from problems in the Australian market that is in its second year of commercial GE-canola cropping. This year there is a $57 price premium for GE-free Canola. To prop up the market Cargill is giving GE-canola farmers a 50% subsidy ($12 NZ) for their crop. This is the second year that GE canola has been unable to be sold on the international market and comes at the same time as court hearings begin for damage resulting from GE contamination affecting Western Australian farmer Steve Marsh.

“Even the major cosmetic companies have a policy to use GE Free ingredients so the canola cannot be sold into that market,” says Claire Bleakley, from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

Scion is considering the replanting of the GE-tree experiments for pines designed to resist herbicides and change reproductive function. The growing threat of herbicide resistant weeds shows that GE herbicide resistant technology is severely damaging farmer’s income and the environment.

“It’s time for a re-direction of science Innovation funding away from the replanting of herbicide resistant GE Trees at Scion. Targeting valuable research funding on GE organisms that will harm our environment and International clean, green, natural brand positioning must stop”.

Government policy pushing GE is not ‘picking winners’, but the opposite.

Research and Development investment money would be better spent looking at developing a commercial nursery of already available species of trees that would not have the risks to the environment, human, animal or insect populations that GE crops have brought overseas.


Farmers plan to update weed control management in 2012, Majority of farmers responding to BASF survey confirm glyphosate resistance http://www.basf.com/group/corporate/en/news-and-media-relations/news-releases/news-releases-usa/P-12-087

Natasha Bita, Monsanto props up weak GM crop price, 
The Australian, April 23 2012 



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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering