Auckland, Tuesday 31 July. Greenpeace says that if the government adopts the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering (RCI), the public will bear the economic and environmental brunt of GE release if it goes wrong.
“The commission have acknowledged the public do not want GE in the NZ environment, yet have not recommend a GE free NZ. Instead they place the liability, of adverse GE release, squarely on the shoulders of the taxpayer, the conventional and organic farmer,” says Annette Cotter, Greenpeace campaigner.
The RCI conclusion of liability issues acknowledges “the potential for some socialisation of unforeseen or unanticipated loss or damage” but considers that, “with the emphasis on prevention, this is appropriate” (CH 12,p328).
“Prevention measures can’t be adequate. Seed contamination is widespread in Europe, an unapproved GE corn is throughout the food chain in the US, and canola field trials in Western Australia cannot be contained. The rate of containment breaches internationally should send a clear message to NZ. Once GE is in the environment, contamination is inevitable. Why does the Commission think NZ will be any different?”
“Insurers have already said they are not prepared to insure GE, and the commissioners acknowledge this, “it is improbable that insurers would take on such risks.” (CH 12, p323). Currently, there is almost no liability regime for environmental damage by adverse GE release, which may take years to manifest,” says Ms Cotter.
Greenpeace is calling on the Government to officially extend the current voluntary moratorium on GE in the environment, until the government’s decision making ends and they call for a GE free NZ in food and the environment.