02/02/2011

EPA Bill must be independent of GE interests

 

The Local Government and Environmental Select Committee on the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Bill have been urged to learn from past events to avoid the same mistakes and conflicts of interest in future.

GE Free NZ spoke to the submission made on the Bill creating a new organization which will be responsible for three major legislations, The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO), The Resource Management Act (RMA) and the Climate Change Act (CCA).

Through the submissions process and decisions made over last 12 years there has been an erosion of standards set in the HSNO legislation, and the EPA must learn from those mistakes," says Claire Bleakley president of GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) which administers the HSNO Act will be subsumed into the EPA as a sub committee.

“New Zealand’s environment cannot be compromised in the way we have seen with ERMA's broadening of discretionary powers to veer away from a science based assessment," says Mrs. Bleakley.

"When commercial interests are allowed to avoid safeguards meant to protect the environment, the wider communities are left to face unacceptable risks from GE escapes and contamination”.

The EPA Board must avoid the conflicts of interest that ERMA has found it self in. CRI’s such as Scion, Plant and Food, AgResearch have continuously overstepped the legislative guidelines which ERMA regulators have then accepted under their discretionary powers.

"New Zealand has a reputation as being free of corruption. We must avoid the revolving doors between commercial users and the organizations supposed to regulate them. Some of the ERMA Authority members were involved in hearing and approving applications of the very organisations they were employed by," says Mrs. Bleakley.

"We believe that this can be addressed by the make up of the staff and Boards that are appointed to the EPA. It is vital that the public have a say in who is appointed to the Boards and that all committee members are appointed on their ability to evaluate and action any environmental and community risks stated by independent experts, free of commercial sector or industry interests.”

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 348 6731

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