“The Government has left innocent victims to fend for themselves if a GM release causes harm” said Sustainability Council Executive Director, Simon Terry.

“It has gone against international commitments given in August to make the polluter pay.”

Those making a GM release according to ERMA conditions will not be liable under HSNO even if they cause severe financial damage. Victims can still pursue civil action, but this involves daunting litigation costs.

“The result is that innocent victims will too often be left picking up the tab” he said.

“At very least, Government could undertake to compensate victims and to then get the money from the polluter. This is the proposed law for the European Union.”

The Law Commission advised Government in May that:

“It is arguable that by allowing the development of GMOs in New Zealand, the government, on behalf of the entire society, must take explicit responsibility for the loss suffered that is left uncompensated by the liability regime established”.

“Government has ducked responsibility and left victims to fend for themselves” he said.

“Making the polluter liable is not just about getting compensation, it is about giving companies the financial incentive to take due care. ”

“If a GM release can not support the full costs of that venture, then it should not proceed. Certainly, those costs should not be passed to innocent victims, as will too often be the case.”

“The proposed law changes are a rush job that fail to adequately protect victims or address wider economic concerns” he said.