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GE Standards For Seed Protects NZ's Market Edge

GE Standards For Seed Protects New Zealand's Market Advantage

The Green Party today said the Government's move to have all imported seeds screened for GE contamination shows how easily our GE-free advantage could be lost.

Possible contamination came to light when a company supplying an order for GE-free corn for export tested its imported seed to check it could guarantee its purity.

"The fact that New Zealand was chosen as the place to grow this crop underlines the benefits we have always claimed of maintaining our GE-free reputation," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand was the perfect place to grow GE-free crops as such crops could not be contaminated by neighbouring GE crops. This was a major economic and marketing advantage for New Zealand, she said.

"However today's developments show just how easily we could lose this advantage through inadvertant GE contamination. We must be extremely vigilant to preserve our rare GE free status which is already bringing economic benefits."

The Green Party submission to the royal commission on genetic modification, lodged on 30 October, drew attention to the lack of testing of imported seed for illegal GE imports or contamination of non-GE seed lines and urged that it be addressed. "We welcome the Government's move today to screen all imported seeds which are to be grown in New Zealand. This move is overdue and the lack of screening to date raises questions about the level of contamination that might have already occurred."

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand imported 186 tonnes of corn seed per year, of which 161 comes from the United States, where genetically engineered crops are prolific.

"We can expect that importers who are supplying a specific market request for GE free corn may wish to source their seed in future from countries which do not grow GE crops.

"To protect New Zealand's interests the seeds we import must be heavily screened and this must be policed vigorously."

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