A seminar on the genetic engineering of food will be held by the Christchurch City Council next year.
The Environment Committee decided this yesterday following a deputation by Groundswell, a Christchurch-based group opposed to genetic engineering of food.
Groundswell asked the council to establish a GE-free zone as a symbolic action. Its spokesman, Paul de Spa, said it wanted the council to take the stand as one of intent. The council would then be setting an example for citizens to follow.
Mr de Spa said such a zone would encourage businesses and individuals to refrain from using GE-engineered products in food production.
Mr de Spa also wanted the council to tell central Government that a mandatory, comprehensive labelling scheme should be introduced regarding the sale of GE foods in New Zealand.
Such moves would enhance the citys clean, unspoilt image and they would also encourage overseas visitors. Overseas environmental-friendly investment could be attracted to Christchurch and the local organic farming industry would be promoted, Mr de Spa said.
A GE-free status would be a source of civic pride, similar to the declaration of a nuclear-free zone in the 1970-1980s, he said.
The committee decided that all interested parties be invited to the seminar.