MPs have been offered a reward of NZ$5000 to create legislation that forces companies to pay up for any damages caused by their genetically engineered crops.

Details of the reward were provided by an advertisement in Saturday’s edition of The Dominion, when organic farmer and businessman Andrew Martin explained that a “Protect New Zealand Bill” was essential in standing up to exploitative multinationals.

Martin maintains that companies were too often willing to harvest the profits of their genetic engineering without accepting the responsibility for the costs of any damages caused by their crops to the environment, agriculture, wildlife, tourism or New Zealand’s clean green image.

“New Zealand is probably one of the most highly regarded countries in the world for being clean and green,” Martin said. “(That’s) really valuable to New Zealand and I’d hate to see them lose it.”

Taxpayers will be picking up the tab for these companies if they are not forced to further investigate the potential effects of GE crops and accept the need to pay compensation in some cases, said Martin. He argued that contrary to public belief, many companies continued testing GE crops during a three month Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering.

The commission is due to make recommendations to the government concerning the liability of companies. Environment minister Pete Hodgson has advised Martin to hold onto his reward until the commission has reported.

Martin revealed that he has received many calls since placing the US$1200 advertisement. His offer of a US$5000 reward would be given to the MP who introduced the legislation to give to a charity of their choice.