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Government Suppression of GM liabilty Report

9 July 2002

Government Suppression of GM liabilty Report Undermines Democratic Debate

The Governments decision to suppress a new report on liabilty for GE damage and ignore Official Information Act requests for its release are anti-democratic and will undermine open public debate about the issue.

GE-free New Zealand (in food and environment) are very concerned that the government is avoiding public discussion of one of the key issues of the election: who pays when things go wrong with a GE organism.

A spokesperson Jon Carapiet says a request for the Crown Law Office report has been stalled, and believes the delay may be politically- motivated by a desire to avoid difficult questions during the election debate.

Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson says the report - given to Attorney General Margaret Wilson some weeks ago- is flawed, and is refusing to allow public access to it.

" The question for government policy on Liability is : Who are the real experts at risk-management- ERMA or the Insurance industry professionals? The taxpayer could be forced to subsidise private biotechnology businesses because insurance companies are refusing cover," said Mr. Carapiet."

" Taking out commercial insurance is a normal practice for most businesses. It is moderating influence which in the case of a powerful and potentially dangerous technology like GE is even more important."

New Zealand's clean and natural marketing image is estimated to be worth billions of dollars each year in exports and tourism. If GE releases are allowed to proceed and damage our economy - who will pay up? There are already many examples where control of GM products has gone terribly wrong or where insurance companies have warned about the financial risks.

" In the US Starlink corn- only approved for animal use- accidentally contaminated human food and cost a billion dollars to recall. In the UK there are reports of land values for sale of farmland used for GM trials being impacted , and NFU Insurance specifically refuses to cover farmers for GM damage. In Canada conventional farmers and the Honey industry have been hit by GE contamination losing them overseas markets, " said Mr Carapiet.

GE-Free New Zealand ( in food and environment) are calling on the Minister to release the report - however flawed he believes it to be- in the interest of democratic debate. ENDS media contact - Jon Carapiet 09 815 370

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