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GM Tamarillo Trial Concerns Would Not Arise Today

8 July 2002

If Northland genetically modified tamarillo trials had been carried out under today's law, there would no concern about the level of containment and monitoring, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification acknowledged that public concern about Kerikeri trial was justified.

"But the trial was completed almost 18 months before Parliament enacted strict new controls to be applied by ERMA, the Environmental Risk Management Authority," Marian Hobbs said. “The government recognised public concern by tightening containment controls and monitoring requirements for GM field trials. The Royal Commission would have no concerns now.”

Marian Hobbs said that last October, after HortResearch and GE Free Northland representatives inspected the tamarillo trial site, agreement was reached not to proceed with fumigating the ground.

"But the trial site is being monitored until January 2003 to check that no GM tamarillo plants have sprouted," Marian Hobbs said. "I have stated previously there should be research into the effects of genetically modified organisms on soil but that research should be properly planned and conducted on a scientifically sound basis.

"It is not possible to do such work at Kerikeri now. We needed to understand the soil makeup before the plantings so we could compare it afterwards. But, I repeat, MAF is monitoring the site."

Ends

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