Biotech Industry could be labelled Terrorists
Biotech Industry could be labelled Terrorists
The new Terror Bill could make companies and individuals pushing for GE release in New Zealand liable to prosecution as terrorists. Politicians have commented that so-called "Anti-GE" protesters could be the first target of the Crimes Act amendment, prescribing up to seven years jail for anyone threatening actions causing ‘major economic loss to one or more persons’. However the BERL economic report and comments from Former British Environment Minister on the damage to our economy from GE contamination signals that elements of the Biotech industry itself would be liable to prosecution.
The threat to New Zealand from companies demanding to release GE organisms is now clear. They are literally threatening our exports, the livelihoods of farmers, community values and future generations.
Last week former British environment minister Michael Meacher told the Dominion Post ( August 7th) that New Zealand should protect its economy by staying GE-free in food production. Mr Meacher wrote:
There are parallels between the British and New Zealand debates on genetic modification. Both nations are led by Labour governments that have argued the benefits of releasing GE organisms despite significant public opposition. Both face decisions in a matter of months on whether to formally clear the way for GE crops to be grown.
In preparation for this, the British Government has recently received advice that may have dampened prime minister Tony Blair’s willingness to allow genetically modified foods to be grown in Britain. The Cabinet strategy unit reported, last month that “any economic benefits from commercial cultivation of current GE crops are likely to be outweighed by other developments, at least in the short term.”
It stated that producing GE products “ could leave farmers facing a low market price, or in the extreme, no market at all”.
This was underlined by representations from food retailers. The British Retail Consortium, representing 90% of food retailers, told the government that “supermarkets are not going to give shelf space to something that doesn’t sell”.
Given this rejection of GE foods in Britain and by the majority of Europeans, I was surprised to find that the production of GE crops in New Zealand is still an open question.
New Zealand has a reputation throughout Europe, its principal food export market, as a source of clean and pure produce. A reputation that was in no small part earned by your nation’s brave stance against another unnecessary and unsafe technology: nuclear power. To an outsider it seems extraordinary that New Zealand would risk this international image through allowing the growing of GE crops. Last week, I visited Canada and witnessed first-hand extensive contamination of their fields with GE canola. The reality is that you cannot have co-existence of conventional and GE: it simply doesn’t work.
Terror bill undermines civil liberties, warn Greens
The Green Party is warning that New Zealanders’ rights to protest and to strike could be threatened by provisions contained in the Counter-Terrorism Bill, which was reported back to Parliament today.
“We shouldn’t give the police the extra powers contained in the bill, or expand the Crimes Act to enable advocates of non-violent protest to be jailed,” said Keith Locke, the Green Human Rights spokesperson.
“Amendments to criminal legislation, with no particular reference to terrorism, are being smuggled in under the guise of what is misleadingly called a ‘Counter-Terrorism’ bill.”
Mr Locke warned that three of the bill’s provisions, amending the Crimes Act, Summary Proceedings Act and Misuse of Drugs Act, are particularly intrusive.
“Police will now have a generalised power, under warrant, to put tracking devices on people.
“When searching premises police will be able to demand computer passwords and encryption devices, even though this breaches a person’s right to avoid self-incrimination.
“Also, police ‘fishing expeditions’ are made easier because they will be able to use interception warrants issued for one purpose to be used to look for evidence on a whole range of crimes.”
“Anti-GE protesters could be the first target of another Crimes Act amendment, prescribing up to seven years jail for anyone threatening actions causing ‘major economic loss to one or more persons’,” Keith Locke pointed out. “Strikes could also be inhibited by this provision.
“Even though the legislation says a strike or a protest ‘by itself’ is not a crime, it’s clear that an intention to damage a GE crop or bring a worksite to a standstill could still put you foul of the law.
“Another part of the bill amends the Terrorism Suppression Act.
“While the Green Party supports
compliance with international conventions on the misuse of
nuclear materials and plastic explosives, there is an
intrinsic problem in the original Act’s overly broad
definition of terrorism that places innocent protesters or
international solidarity activists at risk. The process of
designating who is a terrorist is still too politicised and
secretive,” said Mr Locke.