Two councils in Northland are critical of lax restrictions on genetically engineered crops and animals, and intend to impose their own tighter controls.
The Far North and Whangarei District Councils say that existing GE safeguards are inadequate and their ratepayers want local control.
They have resolved to investigate a plan change giving them the power to regulate the use of genetically engineered organisms, or GMOs.
The councils say their main worry is that there is nothing in place to ensure the polluter pays if something goes wrong.
The proposed change would force GMO users to apply for resource consent, publicly notify their project, and post a sizeable bond to cover the cost of any clean-up.