GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 27th  July 2005

Law Change Needed to Recover Costs of GM Contamination          

The latest GE contamination incident involving a 13,500 tonne consignment of maize in the North Island should be enough reason for the Government to change the law to reclaim costs of clean-up and compensation on a "polluter pays" basis.

It is wrong for New Zealand's export industry and primary producers to be put at risk and to expose the taxpaying public to the costs. Yet under current legislating such as the HSNO Act there is no system in place for reclaiming the costs of damage from those promoting patenting and release of GE organisms.

It is likely there will be occasional contamination incidents given the deliberate push to release GE organisms around the world, but who pays for the damage?

Once the contaminating genes have been identified the government must take legal action even if that has to be in an international court.

The first port of call for compensation is the companies owning the patent of the contaminating gene sequences. This has happened in Mexico, Canada,  and the USA and New Zealand should be promoting liability and compensation regimes, not blocking them.

It is alarming that the New Zealand representative at international conferences have been pushing an agenda that blocks any liability laws and tracking of GMO's that might 'slow trade' as an 'arbitrary barrier' to flow of goods.

" Regulation to limit GE contamination is not an "arbitrary barrier" it's a matter of bio-security as this incident proves. It is wrong to pursue free trade at all and any cost,' says Jon Carapiet.

"By being so 'Free-trade-mad', New Zealand's official representatives have lost the ethical high ground and the perspective of the majority of nations who wish to regulate GE technology."

" I am waiting for a reply from Jim Sutton responding to my request for him to raise the issue of liability and compensation for farmers with his US counterpart visiting New Zealand next month. This latest contamination incident proves the government must act to change the liability laws".


Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681


MAF investigates GM positive maize

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is investigating a GM-positive test result of a maize consignment.

The test came up positive after routine testing in the Upper North Island

The consignment has been isolated while further tests are carried out.

These include sending independent samples to an overseas laboratory, but results could take up to three weeks.

The problem relates to 13,500 tonnes of maize which comes from mixed seed lines and multiple growers.

MAF says it is taking the problem seriously and tracing the seed lines and growers.

Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton says very little information is available and further testing is ongoing.

He says there have been several scares in the past few years and officials are dealing with this one the same way they have dealt with others.

Mr Sutton says our legal system means that any positive test is treated seriously.

Initial tests of some crops in the upper North Island show indications of genetic modification.

Federated Farmers spokesman Hugh Ritchie says the test is not very specific so few details about the scare are available.

He says there is no information yet available on when the maize has been found.

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