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NZ still has GE-free status worth protecting

NZ still has GE-free status worth protecting

The finding that Gisborne sweet corn was probably not contaminated with GE by cross-pollination here is welcome news, Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today, as it shows New Zealand still has a GE-free status worth protecting.

"Our review of the testing results shows that no corn or maize grown near the contaminated corn (and flowering at the same time) has tested positive for GE. This means the most likely explanation of the contamination is low levels of contamination of the original seed import (despite it testing negative for GE in the United States).

"Because so much of our corn seed is imported from countries that grow GE crops, we have long suspected that most corn seed imports are contaminated to a level at or below the limits of detection.

"But the level found in Gisborne is still far, far below the 1 per cent allowable threshold that seed companies are lobbying for, and which some countries have accepted. We must not follow their lead.

"The possibility the seed was not contaminated in this country shows New Zealand still has a GE-free status worth fighting for. New Zealand is as close to being GE-free as is humanly possible.

"It makes it doubly important that we maintain our current import standard which rejects any shipment that tests positive for GE, even though we know extremely low levels may not be picked up. We need to hold the line to ensure that the levels of allowable contamination aren't gradually pushed up.

"It is also important to note that this level of GE contamination is entirely legal in Japan, where the corn contamination was discovered by a food manufacturing company.

"But it was not acceptable to that company, which wanted to sell its product as guaranteed GE-free to satisfy its customers. This shows how sensitive our markets are and the power of the consumer."

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