GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 16th  May 2004

Emergency: Government Must Set up Fund for GE Contamination

The government must urgently legislate to require a bonds, from companies who cause damage from Genetically Modified products, to fund clean-up and compensation. The collapse of Scottish Company PPL and the sale of the GE-sheep farm has left no funding for the monitoring of the site, prompting legal moves to stop PPL withdrawing its funds from New Zealand and avoiding responsibility.

ERMA have no funds to monitor the site of one of the world’s largest trials of transgenic animal ever conducted. MAF are also struggling with under-funding and lack of planning to find imported GE-contaminated maize seed already distributed to farmers. 

The costs of this, and previous incidents where exports from New Zealand have been turned back at the border, are a threat to our National economy, people's health and the environment. 

Insurance companies worldwide have refused insurance for damage from such GE experiments or commercial release, and there is no fund allocated to compensate farmers or the public. MP's are being urged to support a select committee urgently considering a private members bill to reinstate the moratorium on commercial release till liability issues are addressed, a fund set up to compensate farmers and others harmed by GE contamination, and independent research into the health and environmental concerns. 

"Almost all Australian states have introduced moratoria on GE food release in recent months. It is time New Zealand politicians woke up to the need to similarly protect our country, " says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment. 

"It is ridiculous for ACT MP Ken Shirley to call for an end to zero-contamination thresholds when that is the only way to protect the overall security of the food supply. We must be able to keep GE products completely separate or contamination problems will compound." 

Mr Carapiet says he would welcome an opportunity to debate the issue with Mr Shirley who is competing for the leadership of the ACT party and has called for New Zealand to drop its zero-threshold standards. "Mr Shirley's policy could see corn-flakes contaminated by pharmaceuticals: what percentage contamination does he propose?" says Mr Carapiet. 

ACT should be supporting consumers and taxpayers against having to pay for damage, not telling the public to roll over and just accept it. The destruction of GM-Free food supplies is not acceptable to the public, or the market, as Monsanto's decision to drop GE canola trials in Australia and to halt commercial release of GE wheat has recently shown. 

Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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