Government will tomorrow introduce legislation to open the way for GM release.

“Less than a fortnight after it issued a report showing how any release of an agricultural GMO could seriously damage export incomes, Government is pressing ahead without protection for New Zealand’s GM Free food production status. The report showed major risks to the economy due to overseas customers turning away from New Zealand products after a GM release” said Sustainability Council Chair, Sir Peter Elworthy.

The policy behind the new law was rushed through over summer before Government could have seen the results from its economics study.

“The new law will be inadequate on a number of fronts” he said. “It will leave innocent parties to fend for themselves if a GM release causes harm. At very least Government could undertake to compensate victims and then chase whoever caused the harm. That is proposed for EU law but Government has ducked responsibility here.”

“Worse, it will not even give ERMA the power to ensure a company is financially fit before approving a release. ERMA cannot require so much as a bond from the applicant, let alone proper insurance. This is an open invitation to use shell companies without the funds to compensate those harmed.”

There will also be no traceability requirements and no policy as to who pays for the costly segregation of GM from non-GM crops.

New Zealand food producers will be alarmed by the financial risks this legislation will impose on them. They will also be asking why the rush when Government states that it expects very few release applications in the next few years.