A legal report has recommended strict liability and insurance bonds be set up to address the environmental impact of cultivating genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the farms of the Northland Region.
The Northland Regional Council recently held a two-day hearing on whether to place precautionary GMO rules in their regional plan – with a particular emphasis on the issue of liability and compensation for illegal use and environmental harm.
“Submitters were concerned about liability for damages if GMOs are released illegally into their region,” said Claire Bleakley, president of the non-profit GE-Free NZ. “Once released, GMO contamination through pollen, insect and wind dispersal, would make seed purity virtually impossible to preserve.”
Seeking legal opinion, the council referred the issue to their lawyers at the Wynn Williams law firm. The resulting legal report considered the 2002 Law Commission report that identified the impacts from the release of GMOs, finding they could potentially cause catastrophic harm, irreversible damage and long-term negative effects.
“This is an excellent opinion and we are pleased that the report does not show any reason not to place GMO rules in the regional plan,” said Bleakley.
“Due to the inaction to protect farmers from earning a livelihood from GE Free production, it is only reasonable that the Northland Regional Council Plan protects their communities by implementing protections from GMO contamination in light of the many submissions for GE Free protections they received.”