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Mexican GE corn contamination has implications

2 October 2001

Mexican GE corn contamination has global implications

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said news that genetically engineered corn has effectively been illegally released in Mexico had serious implications for the world, including New Zealand.

The Mexican Environment Minister has confirmed that genetically engineered corn has been found growing in 15 out of 22 communities in the states of Oaxaco and Pueblo, despite a blanket moratorium on the growing of genetically engineered crops in Mexico.

"All corn crops worldwide originated from the native corn strains in Mexico and cross-pollination from illegal genetically engineered crops could be disastrous for the purity of those old stocks which are still used for breeding," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Contaminations like this have the potential to destroy the origins of this vital food source.

"Given the volume of genetically engineered corn found in Mexico there is certain to be cross pollination and the genetic contamination of many wild corn strains. Given that farmers in this region regularly save their seeds for the next season, genetically engineered strains are likely to spread and prove impossible to eliminate," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said New Zealand needed to urgently upgrade our biosecurity measures to guarantee genetically engineered corn is not illegally planted here.

"This has been a potential problem for at least five years. This year New Zealand has just started testing imported sweet corn for genetic purity and, although we are to start testing maize next year, we are doing nothing yet to test any other imported seed for genetic contamination.

"Although we have laws in place banning the import of genetically engineered seed we have been relying on good faith so far. We cannot afford to keep doing so," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"We must seriously upgrade our border control and either test each shipment or demand the complete traceability of all seed."


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