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6-Regulation: New Zealand GE liability report planned for September

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  GM report planned for September
SOURCE: New Zealand Press Association,1008,1260723a11,FF.html
DATE:   July 8, 2002

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GM report planned for September

A Law Commission report on legal liability surrounding the release of 
genetically engineered (GE) organisms will not be released until after the 
election. The commission's findings were delivered to Attorney-General 
Margaret Wilson in mid-May but not released as she had asked for further 
information. The report was not presented to cabinet. It was expected to be 
released in September, a spokeswoman for Ms Wilson told NZPA this morning. 
Commission reports were usually released with Crown comment, she said.

GE has become a key election issue, with the Green Party vowing not to 
support any Government that lifted the moratorium on commercial release of 
GE. It is due to be lifted in October 2003. The election had not been a 
factor in the delay, the spokeswoman said, information about how other 
countries handled the issue was being sought. The Royal Commission on 
Genetic Modification said in its July 2001 report there was no need for 
changes to legal liabilities related to genetic engineering.

But when the Government announced its responses to the Royal Commission 
report in October last year it asked the Law Commission to look into the 
matter. "The independence of the Law Commission will be an important factor 
when it comes to weighing up the various competing arguments," Ms Wilson 
said at the time.

The referral came after former Labour prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer 
called on the Government to make GE developers fully financially liable for 
its risks. Sir Geoffrey's law firm, Chen and Palmer, and consultants Simon 
Terry and Associates produced a report saying GE developers should bear the 
full costs if damage resulted from GE experimentation, along "polluter 
pays" lines.

Mr Terry, executive director of anti-GE lobby group the Sustainability 
Council, today issued a statement saying Ms Wilson was about to respond to 
requests that the Law Commission report be released. Last week, the council 
called for the GE moratorium to be extended. It argued New Zealand's 
agricultural exports would be at risk if the country lost its clean, green 
image by allowing field trials of genetically modified plants.


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