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9 Steps MAF Must Take To Contain GE Contamination

Nine steps Maf must take to contain GE contamination

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says Maf must take all possible steps to contain any contamination from the GE maize distributed as a result of the Biogenetic certification fiasco.

Maf are expected to announce today the results of their investigations into the 531 bags of maize seed 0.05 per cent contaminated with Liberty Link, a GE variety. The seed variety is normally grown for animal feed rather than human consumption. Questions still to be answered include: how many of the bags of seed have been planted; where they have been planted; whether they have been mixed with other seed and so contaminated a larger area of land; whether it has been harvested and if so what happened to it after that?

"The main risk from this contaminated seed is that it will cross-pollinate other crops or spill from transport systems and spread the contamination more widely," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Greens' Spokesperson on GE.

"While we do not believe it is safe to feed GE maize to animals or GE corn to humans, Government has approved Liberty Link for both purposes in New Zealand and it can be legally imported in processed foods or animal feed. So the additional risk from this shipment is to our GE-free food production and export reputation, rather than to our food chain in the short term.

"It is expected that much of the seed would have been grown for silage, in which case it would have been harvested green in the summer and put in silage pits. We understand that because of the very wet February most silage has already been fed out to cattle rather than kept for the winter. Some seed is likely to have been grown for grain, so will have been dried on the stalk and either already harvested or be still in the fields.

"Therefore, when Maf has traced all the seed they should:

1. Ensure any seed not yet planted is removed from New Zealand or destroyed.

2. Ensure any maize still standing is harvested under strict controls to ensure no seed falls on the ground.

3. Ensure any seed from these crops is transported in closed containers that are strictly monitored.

4. Ensure all crop residues are burned to minimise the risk of horizontal gene transfer via soil bacteria.

5. Ensure corn or maize are not grown on these fields next year, so that any 'volunteer' maize plants can be identified and removed.

6. Apply the same controls to any adjoining fields where maize or sweet corn was grown at the same time, in case it has been cross-pollinated.

7. Check for seed now around silage pits and along the silage and harvested seeds' route and monitor next year for 'volunteer' plants.

8. Require all seed from these fields to be milled before feeding, so no whole seed is distributed to stock.

9. Apply the best scientific expertise available to future refinements to the rules for seed testing and the audits of testing laboratories

"The Greens strongly opposes the approval of GE foods and feed so a Green Government would withdraw that approval. However, given that our animals are now able to eat 100-per-cent-GE processed grain, we see no advantage to our GE-free status in refusing to allow this grain to be fed to stock, provided it is not used in any export products and does not lead to any risk of the seed forming new plants," said Ms Fitzsimons.

ENDS

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