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Farmers better protected by moving to UK

Farmers better protected by moving to UK than farming 'clean-green' New Zealand

New Zealand farmers would be better off moving to Britain rather than accept the low standard of legal protection against GM contamination being offered by the New Zealand Government.

Under newly-proposed UK liability laws for GE crops UK farmers- whether conventional or organic, will be able to seek compensation for damage even if rules (such as those to be set by New Zealand's ERMA) are fully complied with by biotech companies.

GE-Free NZ ( in food and environment) have asked Environment Minister Marion Hobbs to change the draft Liability laws in order to at least offer an equivalent level of protection to local farmers.

"Government claims to be setting "gold standard" regulations of Genetic Modification are simply untrue. The proposed legislation here will leave conventional farmers and organic production exposed to the costs of GE contamination," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

The silence from Federated Farmers on the unacceptable risks their members look set to be burdened with is an alarming sign that the best-interests of New Zealand's agricultural producers are not being properly represented.

" Farmers should be questioning what is happening now, not when it is too late, and demanding the government change proposed liability to at least match the higher standards being set elsewhere.," says Mr Carapiet.

" Farmers need to question a situation where their livelihoods are being exposed to risks that their overseas counterparts, and competitors, will be protected from."

Below: article on UK Liability Protection. http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,893663,00.html
Minister pledges redress for GM harm
Organic and conventional crops set to win protection

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Wednesday February 12, 2003 The Guardian

Organic and conventional farmers should have the right to compensation if
their crops are damaged or made unsellable by cross pollination from
neighbouring GM fields, the environment minister, Michael Meacher, said

At present farmers who choose to grow genetically modified crops have no
liability if they damage a neighbour's livelihood. Mr Meacher said this
could not continue and the government was considering changing the law.

The European commission was drafting legislation to make farmers and GM seed
companies liable if they damaged biodiversity or human health, but this did
not cover the fact that GM crops might affect the economic interests of
non-GM farmers, he said.

A committee was considering what extra domestic legislation might be needed.

Speaking at a conference exploring whether commercial GM crops should be
introduced into Britain, he said the absence of a legal right of redress had
to be addressed before production began.
"We need to consider how best to protect the interests of all farmers,
including organic farmers," he said.

"Our approach to GM must be compatible with the government's ambitions for
the expansion of organic farming: to increase the UK's market share of
organic produce sold in the UK from 30 per cent to 70 per cent. We need to
consider the terms upon which GM and non-GM production might co-exist. This
might include establishing separation distances to limit cross-pollination."

The conference was organised by Genewatch UK, in association with the
Guardian, Unilever, the Elm Farm Research Centre and the campaign group Five
Year Freeze.

Mr Meacher conceded that the government's plans for public debate on GM
crops before it decides whether to go ahead with commercial growing were behind
schedule. One problem was that the Scottish and Welsh administrations were
out of step with Westminster and wanted extra time for debate.

He believed the government had addressed the complaint that the public
consultation was underfunded, having added £155,000 to the money available,
making it more than £400,000.

He accepted that "the public generally lack trust in the government, and
fear that the debate may be no more than a PR exercise".

He also accepted that the public wanted to explore why GM was necessary, why
it was potentially useful, and why it should be avoided.

There were three studies to be completed before the government made up its
First, the chief scientific adviser, David King, was leading a review of
scientific literature, advised by the food standards agency.

Second, the No 10 strategy unit was making a comprehensive and balanced
analysis of costs and benefits, including the potential positive and
negative impacts on human health, the environment, industry and science, and the
effect on developing countries.

Third, a three-year farm-scale evaluation programme was looking at the
effect of GM crops on insects, weeds and biodiversity generally, compared with
standard farming methods. There would be public discussion of the results
before a decision on whether to go ahead with GM crops.

A second conference was held at the Royal Society to discuss the scientific
issues. Lord May, the president, said it had been called because a great
deal had been heard about the possible dangers of GM and not enough about the
potential benefits.

The conference discussed whether the technology could help reduce the
environmental damage caused by modern farming practices, and the fears of a
long-term impact.

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