GMO Product Liability, Lessons for Nanotech

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Who will have the liability over GMO products, the manufacturers or the farmers?
"Botzow said farmers need a mechanism to address their losses if the seed manufacturer is at fault. He believes in offering at least three paths of liability: product, strict and nuisance. Sears and Komline favor strict liability, meaning manufacturers would pay if an organic field was contaminated with GMOs even if they were not directly responsible. Komline compared the situation to a farmer who owns a steer that breaks through a fence and damages another person's property. The owner of the steer would be liable, so she believes the manufacturer should be liable, whether they were responsible for the seeds spreading or no."

Under the current Senate bill, GMO manufacturers are put under strict liability.
The similar question goes to Nanotech. Who would have the liability for Nanomaterials, Nanoscale Products and Nanomedicines? The Manufacturers, Retailers, Operators or End Users? It may be a little early but I have several proposals:
  1. For the Manufacturers, strict liability
  2. For the Retailers, ordinary consumer protection law
  3. For the Operators, ordinary liability based on due dilligence (omission)
  4. For the End Users, ordinary liability based on due dilligence (omission)

Would strict liability makes it easy for a retailer to corrupt his or her own product and then sue the manufacturer? Yes, but that is an evidentiary problem. If the retailer can prove that the product it uses is essentially an "as-is" derivation or creation of the manufacturers, then they shall be exempted from liability. If, on the other hand, the retailers or operators remodify the nano-products (and something goes wrong and causes injuries to other), I think they should share a portion of liability.

Manufacturers should also have the burden of providing clear and concise instruction manuals for the utilization of their products. They should also be held liable for their negligence in providing the manuals, either because the manuals are lack in enumerating instruction (inadequate) or, is ineffective.


Mohamad Mova Al 'Afghani


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