Insurance Refusal Prompts Call to Change HSNO Act
Insurance Refusal Prompts Urgent Call to Change HSNO Act
The decision by one of New Zealand's leading Insurance companies to refuse cover for GE damage means the government must move quickly to to amend the HSNO Act or risk major damage to the country's economy.
Changes are urgently needed because the current law denies ERMA ( the Environmental Risk Management Authority) the power to require a bond from companies to cover such damage. This situation exposes the public purse, as well as primary producers to significant costs and must be addressed.
"The law must be changed, or ordinary New Zealanders could face having to pay millions in costs for clean-up and compensation," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
"Because insurance companies refuse to cover the risks, and because ERMA has no power to cover the risks through a bond, the costs are being 'socialised' on the public who have made it clear they do not want GE contamination to be allowed in the first place."
There has already been one major example in New Zealand of a company in effect going bankrupt, leaving land that may be contaminated, but with no funds for clean-up or monitoring.
Scottish company PPL had to destroy thousands of GE sheep at their North Island farm and the land was returned to conventional use without soil testing, monitoring, or tissue samples being taken from the animals as a biosecurity measure.
" We have asked ERMA to make the government aware of the loophole in the law that denies them the power to require financial cover for GE risks, but they say it is not their role to advise government on legislation," says Mr Carapiet. "So whose duty is it, and who will take some action?"
GE- Free NZ (in food and environment) will be writing to government Ministers to urge a change in the law.
Local Councils must also take up the issue at the local level and protect ratepayers from having an unreasonable cost imposed on them. Throughout the country there has been numerous submissions to council plans calling for action to protect ratepayers and local producers.
"Socialising the costs onto the public is unacceptable. Recent official-surveys show the majority of New Zealanders want nothing to do with GE beyond contained ethical and medical uses," says Mr Carapiet.
"Official research confirms people see GE releases as threatening the future development of our clean, green and natural environment and marketing image".
Global market trends show the future for New Zealand's primary exports is secure if we can preserve our GE-free production systems and be a major player in meeting the demand for natural, clean food. It is the duty of policticans and business to ensure this happens.