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GE border breach unacceptable - Greens

1 December 2006

GE border breach unacceptable - Greens

Sweet corn plants grown from seed probably contaminated with a genetically engineered variety must be immediately tested to ensure that any potential contamination is discovered and removed, the Green Party says.

"I am absolutely shocked and angered that 1.8 tonnes of sweet corn seeds crossed our border, even though the accompanying testing documentation showed that it was contaminated with GE," Greens Spokesperson on Genetic Engineering Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"There is no excuse for this breach - it is just not good enough.

"After all the fuss around Corngate and the select committee enquiry it appeared that we had a much more robust system to detect and eliminate contaminated seed. It is extremely disturbing to learn that our border is still not secure against GE contaminated seeds. It is even worse that it has taken two months to discover that.

"After two months, and given it is now December, the seed has almost certainly been planted.

"There may be little seed left to test, and a large amount is needed to ensure a representative sample, so leaf samples should be taken widely from the corn in the field. If positive contamination is found, it must be removed and destroyed and the farmers compensated.

"When you are talking about a possible 400 hectares of contaminated corn, we can not rely on tests of just a handful of left over seeds to be a truly representative sample," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"This is an indication that too many people in MAF still don't take the issue seriously. There needs to be a major shake up among the people who constitute our first line of defence.

"Our markets still show no sign of accepting GE foods or GE contamination and it would be suicidal not to listen to them. Nor do New Zealanders want to eat GE foods," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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