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Customs assurance on GE corn

27 October 2000 Media Statement

Customs assurance on GE corn

Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle has today assured consumers that none of the products so far identified as containing a genetically engineered corn product causing alarm overseas have entered New Zealand.

Products that contain the GE corn have been recalled in the United States and other countries have been alerted to this. The GE corn was approved for animal feed in the United States in 1998, but has not been approved as fit for human consumption.

The Minister said Customs have systems in place to track such products and to detect whether products which have been identified as a risk, have crossed the border.

"When the alarm was first raised overseas three weeks ago, I asked Customs officials to check for imports of Taco Bell products – known to contain the GE corn – but none were found to have come into the country.

"Customs is ever vigilant in watching the border for these products. In this case an alert has been created around the GE corn meaning that products which have been identified as containing this GE corn will immediately be red-flagged if attempts are made to import them."

Having proved that the tracking system is effective in tracking, it will be used systematically to protect New Zealand from importation of unapproved GE products, she said.

"Now that there is evidence emerging that other products may contain the GE corn, I have instructed Customs to liaise with the Ministry of Health and the US Food and Drug Administration to urgently identify other products found to contain this corn," Phillida Bunkle said.

ENDS

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