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GE lab's failures equals thousands of GE plants

GE lab's failures equals thousands of GE plants

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says GE contamination found in retested maize seed represents thousands of plants that could have already pollinated and that this latest GE scare is likely to be internationally embarrassing.

The Government has announced that maize seed previously cleared by decertified lab Biogenetic Services has now been found to be contaminated with GE seed. Fifteen consignments, representing 80 per cent of the volume held after the lab lost its certification in March, have been tested so far and two, including the largest, have been found to be contaminated by up to point zero five per cent. A quarter of the largest, 30 tonne consignment had already been despatched to farmers before Maf froze Biogenetic-tested seed. Biogenetic had previously cleared seed involved in the Corngate and Sunrise pizza topping contamination scares.

"Even though point zero five per cent sounds like a very low level of contamination, when you're talking about seven and a half tonnes of seed, that translates into over 22,000 GE plants that could have been in the ground this last summer," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party Spokesperson on Genetic Engineering.

"Maf must now check all fields where this maize was grown and neighbouring crops which could have been cross-pollinated, to remove any seedlings that may germinate.

"The newly released details of Biogenetic's sloppiness reveal how the Sunrise pizza topping found to contain GE corn in Japan last year got past New Zealand's checking process. It seems Biogenetic did find GE contamination, but ignoring New Zealand's post-Corngate zero tolerance, averaged the results out over the entire shipment, thus 'washing' the positive results out of the final figures. One would imagine that the Japanese will not be happy that New Zealand allowed GE material to slip into their food chain.

"What this latest matter shows is that Maf's GE biosecurity regime is improving, but it could still do better. If testing cannot be trusted or if seed from a particular country is found to be consistently contaminated, we need to consider curtailing all imports from that source," said Ms Fitzsimons.

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