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Minister welcomes confirmation of no GM coverup

19 October 2004

Minister welcomes confirmation of no GM coverup

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs has welcomed the fact that a Parliamentary select committee has established there was no coverup over the accidental release of allegedly genetically modified sweet corn in 2000. Nor were ministers involved in the scientific decisions taken by officials at the time.

"National, NZ First, Green and Act committee members concluded that on the evidence available the presence of GM seeds could neither be proven nor disproven," Marian Hobbs said. "Labour and United Future MPs went further and stated categorically that because there was no reliable evidence of contamination there was nothing to cover up.

"The committee also reported unanimously it had found no evidence that officials were acting under ministerial instruction when they took the decisions they did and that there was no evidence that ministers took the scientific decision about whether or not the crop was contaminated with GM seed.

"I said all along that there had been no coverup and that there was no evidence of GM contamination in the corn seed."

Marian Hobbs said the government had learned from the original incident in 2000.

"We have already moved to clarify the relationship between the various agencies which was unclear at the time," Marian Hobbs said. "Three instances of inadvertent GM presence have been dealt with efficiently and effectively by MAF and ERMA since then.

"I also welcome the committee's recommendation (No 10) on how to implement New Zealand's zero tolerance of GM at the border. This means that where imported seed has passed the test protocol and been planted the crop should be able to be grown, harvested and consumed even if low levels of GM corn are found later.

"National went further, recommending New Zealand adopt a formal tolerance level for known amounts of unapproved GM seed. It is puzzling for National to accuse officials of trying to introduce a tolerance level for GM seed when obviously it would be quite happy to see one implemented."

ENDS

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