Anti-GE campaigners are accusing the Northland Regional Council of duping the public with a weakened policy on genetic engineering.
The council is one of six which are looking at ways to ban genetically-modified crops or animals. But on Wednesday, it adopted a new long term Community Plan that no longer spells out its GE policy.
The previous policy was that there should be no release of genetically modified organisms, GMOs, in the north until the risk could be properly evaluated, and a strict liability regime put in place, for GMO users. But now that wording is gone.
Chairman Mark Farnsworth says it's not the job of local government to control GMOs.
The council now says it will reflect a precautionary approach in submissions to the Environmental Risk Management Authority on GE proposals involving Northland.
But GE-Free Northland says ERMA has shown it cannot be relied on to evaluate risks.