New GE Contamination Pushes Liabilty
New GE Contamination Pushes Liabilty to Top of Agriculture Agenda
New Zealand may have to re-introduce a moratorium on GE crops as parts of Australia have done, unless strict liabilty rules are established to hold polluters responsible for clean up and compensation.
"New Zealand needs new legislation to encourage compliance and responsible business practices if our export econmy is to be protected. The issue of liabilty must be at the top of the agenda for the newly-elected government," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
No commercial GE release has been allowed in New Zealand to date. As the marketing benefits of GE-free production continue to increase new liabilty mechanisms are now urgently needed to encourage GE-companies to keep GE organisms contained.
In the last few days the NSW government has had to destroy trial crops of conventional canola after GE contamination was indentified. This comes only days after contamination was found in Western Australia.
Western Australia's Agriculture Minister says without strict liability for adverse effects from GMOs - something the biotech industry steadfastly refuses to contemplate - the GM moratoria introduced by the Australian states will continue indefinitely.
"Until we have assurances that we have an adequate legal framework, no state jurisdiction is ever going to lift their moratorium. They know bloody well that if you can't find an answer in common law it's going to come to the state to find the solution. We don't want that problem, thank you," said the Minister
The New Zealand government and Local Authorities whose rate-payers also face having to carry the costs of clean-up, should work with state governments in Australia to develop a strict liabilty regime for GE contamination. It is a matter of urgency as the current rules 'socialising' risk on the general public do not encourage compliance form GE companies and risk sabotaging exports from the Antipodes to a world demanding high-quality GE-free produce.