Local Government New Zealand says communities are asking for stricter controls on genetically-engineered material than those set by central government.
Environment Minister Amy Adams believes the Government's controls on genetically-modified trials and releases are strict enough and said she will change the law to stop councils restricting the growing of genetically-engineered crops and animals in their districts.
Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said on Friday that councils have taken those steps because many people want a more precautionary approach than central government.
Mr Yule, the mayor of Hastings, said his council wants a 10-year moratorium on GE to give Hawke's Bay food and wine an advantage in export markets.
Lobby group GE-Free New Zealand said Ms Adams is buying a fight with communities and growers by saying she will block councils from banning GE crops.
Spokesperson Jon Carapiet said the minister is defying public opinion, the advice of the previous minister and common sense. He said people all over the world want GE-free food.