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Greens welcome investigation into GE liability

26 February 2002

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has welcomed a Government decision to get the Law Commission to look into liability issues arising from any release of GE materials into the environment.

The Minister Responsible for the Law Commission, Margaret Wilson, announced today the Law Commission will look at whether current laws are adequate, and at what other liability regimes could be used to deal with harm resulting from release of GE organisms. The Commission will report back by late May.

"It is very clear that our current laws are not in fact adequate, especially when GE contamination could completely destroy the livelihood of organic farmers," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"A report on GE liability from Chen and Palmer, and Simon Terry Assoc last October found that the companies who make the profits should pay if things go wrong. Any fair liability regime should be based on that principle."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party still strongly believed that New Zealand should be GE-Free outside the laboratory, which was the only future in which liability would be a minor issue.

"While a strong liability regime is important to deal with economic loss, no liability regime can compensate for ecological damage, and money is poor compensation for serious health damage.

"However, given that there is so far no commitment from the Government to extend the current ban on commercial releases past October 2003, this is an important piece of work that needs to be done as soon as possible."

ENDS

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