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Protocol helps avoid GE contamination

25 May 2000

Protocol helps avoid GE contamination

The Cartagena protocol on biosafety, which New Zealand signed last night in Nairobi, is crucial to keeping New Zealand crops free from genetic contamination, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today.

"This protocol will mean that anyone who is exporting genetically engineered seed, fruit, grains or animals to New Zealand will have to inform us of that," said Ms Kedgley.

"Canola grown on the Canadian prairies has recently been genetically contaminated despite growing more than 800 metres away from genetically engineered plants. This discovery shows how easy it is for genetic alterations made in living modified organisms, the organisms covered by the protocol, to be transferred into other organisms," Ms Kedgley said.

"We have set up controls on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms. Without this protocol in force, the controls would leak like a sieve," said Ms Kedgley.

But Ms Kedgley said the protocol will only work when the imports were known to be genetically engineered.

"The protocol would not prevent an accidental planting of contaminated seeds, such as the distribution of contaminated canola which was exported from Canada and unknowingly planted on thousands of acres of British soil."

Sue Kedgley MP: (04) 470 6728 or 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: (04) 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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