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Robust Biosecurity Critical Says Horticulture NZ

Media Release
5 December 2006

Robust Biosecurity Critical Says Horticulture New Zealand

Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) is calling for a thorough review of procedures surrounding the importation of corn seed and seeking assurance that robust biosecurity systems are in place to ensure GE contaminated corn seed is not brought into New Zealand.

“Today’s announcement by Biosecurity NZ that other consignments have been incorrectly released is of real concern for growers as it confirms that the original two consignments initially declared on 1 December were not a one-off mistake,” says HortNZ Chief Executive, Peter Silcock.

“Growers have planted this seed in good faith. If the crops are to be destroyed it will have a big impact on those growers and we will be expecting compensation. It is fortunate that Biosecurity NZ have recognised this error early in the season when the affected corn is at an early stage when there is no risk of contamination with other corn crops. It also means that growers may be able to consider planting other crops if they are ordered to destroy this corn.”

Mr Silcock went on to say that Biosecurity NZ now needs to establish strong and regular communication with affected growers so they know what is happening and are first to be informed about decisions.

“While we accept it is important Biosecurity NZ have all the information before making a decision about this corn, we would like to see these decisions happen quickly so growers aren’t left hanging and can make decisions about the future use of the land. If growers are required to destroy the crops then the issue of compensation needs to be dealt with up front,” said Mr Silcock.

Corn is a major crop for New Zealand’s horticulture industry with 5,000 to 6,000 hectares grown annually.

ENDS

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