GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment,4th December 2003

Farmers must get cash for Contamination

New Zealand farming is under threat because of the government’s failure to set up a compensation fund for GE contamination or to require ERMA to protect GE-free production systems. UK government officials have advised that a government-backed fund must be set up to compensate farmers who lose money because their crops are contaminated by GE varieties, before
any commercial growing of GE crops is permitted.

But the New Zealand government has not implemented the idea despite previous calls to do so and despite the lifting on the moratorium on applications for release. Their failure to act leaves New Zealand farmers exposed to unreasonable risks as local and overseas biotech companies push on with their experiments claiming they will be safe and that they will protect both farmers’ and public choice.

The UK Biotechnology Commission’s said the government should also ensure that the consumer continued to have the choice to buy British-produced non-GM food. But without urgent action now to prevent contamination the choice for New Zealanders is about to be sacrificed.

But last week a conference run by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs was told contamination was starting to make labelling of GE-free products impossible. “ We believe the New Zealand government owes consumers the same human right, and must commit to protecting GE-free supplies,” says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. 

The Biotech Industry have misled the public into thinking they will have a choice to eat GE-free food, but step by step the government is allowing that right to be removed. The UK Biotechnology Commission’s warning comes at the same time that US tests show the banned “Starlink” GE corn is still showing up in the US corn supply years after it was pulled from the market, and that other GE crops are being approved by authorities without testing of novel proteins produced by artificial genes now being incorporated.

“ Until there is a system to track and contain GE ingredients so products found to be harmful can be withdrawn, public health is threatened. When a more serious accident occurs and people cannot even choose GE-Free products to avoid the problem we will be facing an unprecedented legal and medical situation,” says Mr Carapiet. ”As well as liability legislation, emergency systems for a recall need to be in place. 

Unfortunately they are not.”

Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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