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Contaminated fields replanted with corn

Contaminated fields replanted with corn

The Green Party is very disappointed to find that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has allowed corn to be sown again in 26 fields found to be contaminated with small amounts of Genetically-Engineered seed last season.

The Genetically-Engineered corn, planted last season, passed into New Zealand after the testing laboratory, Biogenetic Services, wrongly reported low-level GM contamination as negative results. The crop was allowed to be harvested despite the laboratory’s accreditation being suspended by the Ministry.

In response to questions from the Green Party, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs confirmed that corn crops had this season been planted in 26 of the 34 fields implicated last time, 25 in Maize and one in sweet corn.

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said: “This is not a best-practice biosecurity system. There is a real risk that GE seed from last season’s contaminated crop could have germinated this year and been hidden in this year’s crop. Such ‘volunteers’ have already been found in eight of the fields where the contaminated corn was planted.”

The volunteer plants were killed.

“The fields should have been used for other crops for a year in order to find and weed out any corn plants,” Ms Fitzsimons said.

“MAF refuse to tell us what variety of corn has been planted in these 26 fields so it is impossible to tell whether any ‘volunteer’ plants from last year would be noticeable.

“The select committee enquiry into the ‘Corngate’ incident was assured over and over again that MAF has improved its procedures and now follows best practice. I’m very disturbed to find they have such a sloppy attitude that they don't care whether the contaminated seed multiplies or not.

“If this is typical of MAF procedures generally, our biosecurity and our GE-Free status at the border is seriously at risk.”

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