Corngate (again): Greenpeace calls for revision of Biosafety and Liability Rules
Monday 11 December 2006: Greenpeace today condemned Syngenta for playing Russian roulette with farmers and NZ’s GE free status following the revelation that two of four batches of corn imported illegally tested positive for GE.
“This shows huge gaps in our Biosafety regime and we commend the Minister for Agriculture Jim Anderton for instigating an independent inquiry into the latest GE seed contamination episode,” said spokesperson Cindy Baxter. “This was completely avoidable and yet, once again, New Zealand has failed to prevent GE corn contamination.”
Greenpeace welcomed the decision to destroy the contaminated corn, which Syngenta sold at a likely premium on the basis of it being non-GE, when its own documentation showed it was in fact GE contaminated.
“While we welcome the decision to destroy the corn that Syngenta has admitted is contaminated, we are concerned that we are left growing corn which was imported in breach of our biosafety laws,” said Baxter. “This highlights major gaps in our Biosafety and our liability regime, leaving a lot of growers and the public exposed.”
“We have to worry that our biosecurity is so dependent on paperwork provided by Syngenta. Syngenta is, after all, a company that produces, promotes and profits from GE seed. This is the same company that refused to co-operate when a Parliamentary Select Committee requested it to provide test data on New Zealand’s biggest GE contamination scandal (corngate). Syngenta is hardly an objective source of information.”
The NZ Government must legislate to ensure monetary liability is carried by the company providing the seed if they want companies like Syngenta to take real care and responsibility, and that farmers and the NZ public are fully indemnified.