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Greens wrong about NZ's liability rules

Greens wrong about NZ's liability rules

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is wrong in her claims about New Zealand's liability rules and GMOs, and also mistaken about New Zealand's stance at the Montreal meeting of parties to the Cartagena Protocol.

"First of all, there was no proposal at Montreal to impose a strict liability on manufacturers of genetically modified organisms. The focus of a working group on liability and redress was primarily on process and New Zealand wants all options considered," Marian Hobbs said.

"Jeanette Fitzsimons has used as the basis for her own comments the incorrect statements of a Malaysian delegate about New Zealand's stance at the conference. This is very foolish.

"Our officials in Montreal are taking a position consistent with New Zealand's interests. We have not said 'no' to liability rules but we want a proper analysis before signing up to liability rules that could turn into de facto trade barriers.

"Secondly Jeanette is incorrect to claim in her press release that 'in New Zealand there is no general liability for causing human health or economic harm through the release or indiscriminate application of Genetically Modified Organisms, unless there is a specific law that has been broken'.

"That liability statement is incorrect. New Zealand's normal liability rules could be relied upon if someone wanted to take legal action for harm caused by GMOs even though no law had been broken. The strict civil liability regime kicks in once the HSNO Act has been breached.

"In the lead-up to the election it would be Jeanette's dream to revive the GM issue. Relying on false information and making incorrect statements about our law won't do that.

"The government's position on GM remains consistent – preserving opportunities for the future while proceeding cautiously."

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