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GE Liability Issue A Red-Herring

9 July 2002

Federated Farmers' President Alistair Polson believes that the issue of GE liability is a red herring. "To say that GM technology poses new liability issues is just another red herring in the pre-election GM debate. Producers already deal with a wide range of liability issues including health, safety and environmental impacts."

"The liability issues arising from the application of GM technology are no different to those provided by existing production practices," says Polson.

"For example, the known potential for GM crops to cross pollinate is no different from the potential of existing crops to cross pollinate undesirably. Current industry isolation protocols ensure that the risks from the production of grain and seed are well controlled, and provide a model for managing liability concerns."

Polson acknowledges that liability may become an issue when immediate steps are not taken to adjust the regulatory regime in the event of new knowledge or knowledge gained from proper investigation of recognised failure.

However, Polson says that liabilities such as these can also be avoided. "There are a range of measures we can implement to avoid liability from unintended outcomes. These include ensuring that we work within the HSNO guidelines, trained and registered operators, obtain commercial insurance and adjust programs in keeping with new scientific knowledge and new technologies."

"To quote the Royal Commission, there is nothing 'so radically different in genetic modification as to require new or special remedies'."


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