“Liability for GM contamination must remain with those who import or use GM seed and not be passed to the taxpayer” said Sustainability Council executive director, Simon Terry.

He was responding to today’s suggestion from Pacific Seeds that the taxpayer should in future pick up the costs arising from contaminated seed imports, such as that from a crop of East Coast maize.

“Importers and grower have the choice not to source seed from the few countries that pose higher risks of GM contamination. Taxpayers have no way to influence that choice and should not be landed with the financial consequences” said Mr Terry.

Just four countries – The US, Canada, China and Argentina – account for over 98% of the commercial production of GM crops.

“As commercial crops are the main source of seed contamination, importers and growers can decide to avoid sourcing supplies from these higher risk countries”.

“Liability must follow the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Otherwise, the agents that have the ability to reduce the risk don’t have the incentive to get it right” he said.

“The Sustainability Council welcomes the commitment made by Pacific Seeds and the Government to ensure any remaining GM material is eradicated from the fields where the contaminated maize was grown” said Mr Terry.

“New Zealand has now seen GM contamination, but with the promise of a full cleanup, it will not affect the nation’s ability to remain a GM free food producer.”