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No Contamination Claim Not Backed Up By Documents

Dr Nick Smith
National Environment Spokesperson

11 July 2002

'No contamination' claim not backed up by documents

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Environment Minister Marion Hobbs must back up with official papers their categorical statement that there was no GM contamination of imported corn seed, says National Environment Spokesperson Dr Nick Smith.

"The Prime Minister's line that there was no contamination is not in any of the official papers from the time. To the contrary, after all the test results were known on November 24, all the official papers continue to refer to contaminated corn.

The documents say:

* 'Testing indicated low levels of GM seeds in conventional seeds' 1 December 2001, Government contingency media strategy.

* 'A recent approach by industry has bought to light number of issues with regard to a low level inadvertent contamination of imported seed with genetically modified material' - 8 December 2000 Cabinet paper

* 'We know that the Novartis sweet corn is contaminated' - 15 January Lindie Nelson and Oliver Sutherland, ERMA board members, memo that resulted in an urgent meeting of the ERMA Board in February

"The Prime Minister's statement contradicts all the official papers from the time.

"I have an uncomfortable feeling officials have now been pushed into this statement to save the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister embarrassment of such a blatant breach of their GM moratorium.

"National has requested all other papers, but not received them yet. Unless further papers from the time state that no contamination occurred, the public are right to dismiss it as just a further cover-up by the Government," Dr Smith said.


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