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NZers should not pay for GE stuff-ups

New Zealanders should not have to foot the bill for GE contamination caused by industry carelessness, Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

It would be outrageous if taxpayers had to pay for crops ruined by contaminated seed, and associated costs. This was especially the case as a large number of New Zealanders did not even want GE in the country.

Ms Fitzsimons was responding to calls from Pacific Seeds for the Government to pick up the tab for unintentional GE contamination.

Pacific Seeds regional director Howard Morris said yesterday the cost to his company of the GE-contaminated maize grown at Pukekohe and Gisborne this year was at least $500,000. The company had initially relied on overseas tests which said the seed was GE-free, and found the contamination in its own tests.

"However, part of the cost was the incineration of 30 tonnes of seed, which the company chose to do voluntarily. The Government would have allowed the export of the seed to a country which grows GE crops which would not have been concerned about the contamination," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"With a proper liability regime, if Pacific Seeds bought the parent line seed, they should be able to reclaim costs from the vendors. If they grew it overseas and it was contaminated by neighbouring GE crops, they should be able to recover costs from the contaminator.

"Until the Government sorts out proper 'strict liability' rules for GE contamination, taxpayers and the public will be at risk from companies anxious to pass on the cost."


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