Compensation For GE Contamination Must Be Raised
New Zealand Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton must raise the issue of compensation for NZ farmers for GE contamination when US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns visits New Zealand next month.
Australian farmers have recently been hit by GM contamination of canola (see below) that is being attributed to mistakes in regulatory processes overseas but has left them exposed to lost sales to international markets as a result.
Julie Newman from Australia’s Network of Concerned Farmers is asking for immediate legislative protection to ensure farmers can claim compensation if incomes are adversely affected.
This echoes calls made by New Zealand farmers for stricter liability laws to be introduced so that innocent farmers and the taxpayer are not left carrying the costs of damage.
In a similar decision to that of the Commerce Commission in New Zealand, the ACCC has confirmed that in order to market products as "non-GM" or "GM-free" as demanded by consumers internationally Australian farmers must ensure there is no trace of GM canola in consignments.
"We knew something like this would happen eventually but the test is to
see where the liability for this recklessness lies and it had better not rest with the
non-GM farmers that do not want this GM product in their crops," says Julie Newman
"Jim Sutton must raise the issue of liabilty and compensation payouts with his US counterpart," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
"The NZ government has been slow to recognise the need to ensure compensation mechanisms are in place to protect our farmers from loss of income as a result of markets rejecting contaminated products because of errors by US and other companies overseas."
Failure to address the issue of strict liability to ensure it rests with those responsible for the contamination leaves New Zealand's economic well being at risk and exposes us to potential cost running to billions of dollars for clean-up and in lost exports.