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AgResearch tries to milk mothers

AgResearch tries to milk mothers

“How many cake stalls do we have to do before we get access to justice?” Alannah Currie

In a move to stop a High Court judicial review from going ahead, some of the country’s most expensive lawyers acting on behalf of AgResearch are demanding that a group of mothers pay security for their exorbitant court costs.

They are demanding that Madge (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering in Food and the Environment) pay $30,000 as security against costs before their case is even heard and estimates their own legal costs will be more than $100,000.

MAdGE is a national non-profit voluntary organisation and their members range from single mums in Dunedin, nanas in Hamilton, doctors in Auckland, to farmers in Northland. A few members have money but most do not. The one thing they all have in common is a deep concern about the risks of allowing GE organisms into food and the environment and the potentially disastrous consequences to future generations.

“Mothers right across the country have worked incredibly hard juggling kids, housework and jobs to raise the money to pay lawyers to bring this case to court. How many cake stalls do we have to do to get access to justice?” said MAdGE founder, Alannah Currie

It is important for all New Zealanders that this judicial review goes ahead. It raises serious and valid questions of interpretation and the application of the law, which need to be addressed by the Court. Even the Chief Executive of ERMA, Bas Walker has said “it will assist in strengthening the interpretive material relating to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms act.”

“AgResearch's project would not be going ahead in its current form if the regulators had rigorously and correctly applied the law. In this case, it has been left to a voluntary organisation to provide the necessary checks and balances in the system. This case is important for its precedent effect and must be allowed to proceed to ensure all future applications under the HSNO Act are properly determined under the law.” Kate Woodd, MAdGE Legal Spokeswoman.

AgResearch, as a crown institute, has access to taxpayers money to pay their lawyers. MAdGE has no access to public funds. “AgResearch seems to be implying that we should have to mortgage our houses to get our case heard. That’s not justice – its an outrage.” Alannah added.

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