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GE Insurance Protest At ERMA-Report

GE Insurance Protest At ERMA-Report

Taxpayer Protest demands insurance cover for GE field trials.

About 30 people staged a vigil outside a meeting in Auckland of the Environmental Risk Management Authority at lunchtime today,Tuesday 18th April. The protest called on the government and ERMA to require insurance for field trials that are set to continue during the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Engineering.

A letter addressed to Environment Minister Marion Hobbs was accepted by the ERMA Communications Manager Karen Kronin. The letter asked for immediate action to require private insurance for GE research undertaken for the benefit of private companies.

Insurance companies have rejected cover for full release of geneticallly engineered organisms but may insure controlled experiments such as the minimal-risk field-trials ERMA is approving.

Attached is letter:

TO: Marian Hobbs, Minister for Bio-security and the Environment
The Board: The Environmental Risk Management Authority

C/O Karen Cronin, Manager Communications, ERMA 18th April 2000

Dear Minister and ERMA ,

Private Insurance for Genetic Engineering Field Trials

The New Zealand taxpayer is currently being exposed to the risk of damage from GE field experiments being conducted without any private insurance cover.
The Public interest is not being served by this situation, and this letter requests your immediate attention and action to require private insurance for all GE field trials.

Last week, an infestation of bee mites signalled the significant economic costs that can arise from accidental damage to the complex systems on which agriculture is reliant. Accidental contamination from GE trials could present an even greater magnitude of loss.
It is imperative that the abuse of the public as an unwilling "clayton's" insurance company be stopped.

Most field trials have a significant private-sector involvement, directly or indirectly as beneficiaries of the commercial application of the trials. Indeed the registered ownership of life-forms is intrinsic to the commercial system underpinning the use of the new technology. It is unacceptable and morally reprehensible to falsify these commercial relationships by leaving the public liable for damage from these experiments.

Until the Royal Commission of Inquiry can investigate and make recommendations for the public interest, field trials and experiments must be required to have private insurance cover.

Failure by government and ERMA to require such insurance cover would be tantamount to criminal negligence if there was an event of the magnitude of the bee-mite infestation involving irreversible GE contamination.

In the interest of New Zealand's future and the public good, we urge you to act now.

Yours Sincerely

On behalf of, and in the interests of
The Public, pending the Royal Commission of Inquiry into GE

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