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Only stopping GE imports prevents contamination

17 August 2005

Only stopping bulk GE imports will prevent contamination

The Greens welcome MAF's announcement that the recent GE contamination of maize was not caused by a failure in border security, but warn only stopping imports of bulk GE flour and meal will prevent it from happening again.

Last month the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry rang alarm bells after a company's own testing revealed that thousands of tonnes of maize destined for human consumption showed signs of GE contamination. Today the Ministry have announced that further testing has revealed that the maize itself was not genetically engineered or cross -pollinated with GE varieties, but had come into contact with GE soy meal when in storage prior to the end user company receiving it.

"Although it is of course good news that we don't have thousands of hectares of uncontained GE maize growing in our environment, this latest GE contamination does raise real concerns," Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"Why are companies allowed to store human food in the same place as animal feed; or an allergen like soy with a benign grain like maize; or a GE product with anything else? Clearly the rules around the storage of bulk foodstuffs need to be tightened.

"MAF themselves acknowledge that due to the complexity of the processing and distribution of bulk food stuffs, it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict how and where contamination will occur next. Clearly, as long as GE product is being imported for whatever reason, contamination can occur.

"That's yet another reason why Inghams should stop feeding their chickens with GE soy.

"The Greens call on conscientious companies whose business relies on New Zealand's GE-Free status to lobby the Government to prohibit the importing of bulk GE flour and meal. Only such a move will prevent this type of contamination happening over and over again.

"This saga also raises again the question of liability for GE contamination. The losses for the end user who was trying to provide GE-Free product and the costs for MAF who had to investigate should be borne by the owner of the storage facility. Their slack procedures are directly responsible for this fiasco and they should be the ones to pay for it," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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