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Law Needed to Recover Costs of GM Contamination

28 July 05

Law Change Needed to Recover Costs of GM Contamination

The latest GE contamination incident involving a 13,500 tonne consignment of maize in the North Island should be enough reason for the Government to change the law to reclaim costs of clean-up and compensation on a "polluter pays" basis.

It is wrong for New Zealand's export industry and primary producers to be put at risk and to expose the taxpaying public to the costs. Yet under current legislating such as the HSNO Act there is no system in place for reclaiming the costs of damage from those promoting patenting and release of GE organisms.

It is likely there will be occasional contamination incidents given the deliberate push to release GE organisms around the world, but who pays for the damage?

Once the contaminating genes have been identified the government must take legal action even if that has to be in an international court.

The first port of call for compensation is the companies owning the patent of the contaminating gene sequences. This has happened in Mexico, Canada, and the USA and New Zealand should be promoting liability and compensation regimes, not blocking them.

It is alarming that the New Zealand representative at international conferences have been pushing an agenda that blocks any liability laws and tracking of GMO's that might 'slow trade' as an 'arbitrary barrier' to flow of goods.

" Regulation to limit GE contamination is not an "arbitrary barrier" it's a matter of bio-security as this incident proves. It is wrong to pursue free trade at all and any cost,' says Jon Carapiet.

"By being so 'Free-trade-mad', New Zealand's official representatives have lost the ethical high ground and the perspective of the majority of nations who wish to regulate GE technology."

" I am waiting for a reply from Jim Sutton responding to my request for him to raise the issue of liability and compensation for farmers with his US counterpart visiting New Zealand next month. This latest contamination incident proves the government must act to change the liability laws".

ENDS


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