GENET archive


7-Business: New Zealand's government plans to pay compensation forGE contaminated seeds

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

TITLE:  'Incentive lost' if taxpayer foots GM bill
SOURCE: The New Zealand Herald, by Brian Fallow
DATE:   21 Jul 2004

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'Incentive lost' if taxpayer foots GM bill

Farmers who inadvertently plant genetically modified maize, and the seed
importer which supplies them in good faith, will be compensated by the
taxpayer for the costs of containing the incursion. However, a
Sustainability Council report said yesterday that paying compensation
weakened the incentive on seed importers to choose the lowest-risk option
when selecting seed to import. But the seed importer involved in the
latest incident, Corson Grains, says it does not need any additional
incentive to take precautions. The Biosecurity Act requires growers and
importers to be left no better or worse off after whatever measures the
Ministry of Agriculture takes to contain the problem. In this case, that
is milling the harvested grain so it cannot reproduce and destroying any
unsold seed. But Corson general manager Shane Lamont said that covered
only realised costs, not damage to the brand. "There will be damage to
our sales, I suspect, and we are not for a minute expecting to be
compensated for that." MAF is readying a paper for the Cabinet on whether
zero tolerance policy on GM should be maintained. The council, which
opposes relaxation of the standard as a threat to the national clean,
green brand, says how much risk seed imports pose depends heavily on
choices importers make, including where they source the seed and the
quality assurance programmes they use. Executive director Simon Terry
said before the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act was amended
last October, no compensation was normally payable to parties which were
required to clean up GM contamination. But now, following lobbying by
Federated Farmers, compensation payments were compulsory regardless of
the degree of risk chosen by the importer. Said Terry: "It's socialising
the losses caused by those who elect to take greater risks. 


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