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Farmers being hung out to dry by authorities

6 December 2006

Farmers being hung out to dry by authorities

Biosecurity New Zealand's continued procrastination over the GE sweet corn scandal is hanging farmers out to dry and damaging New Zealand's international reputation as GE-free, the Green Party says.

"These crops and any seeds not yet planted must be destroyed immediately and the farmers compensated," Co-Leader and Spokesperson on Genetic Engineering Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

Biosecurity NZ Spokesperson Peter Thompson told Radio New Zealand this morning that the agency was going back to the company that had supplied the seeds USA-based Syngenta, for further documentation.

"There seems no point in doing this. These four consignments came through with documentation that showed GE contamination. Even if Syngenta provides 100 more documents, it will not change the fact that several tonnes of contaminated seeds have been illegally imported and planted in New Zealand soil.

"Given this company's refusal to allow a select committee, investigating the Corngate issue, access to information about Melbourne lab tests on which the case hung, how can we rely on any information they produce now?

"The fact that New Zealand is considering allowing crops to mature and be harvested that have been illegally introduced after testing positive for GE is sending a very dangerous message to our export markets that New Zealand cannot be relied on to be GE-free.

"The farmers affected by this are being hung out to dry. While the authorities run around pointing fingers, getting more paperwork and procrastinating over what to do next, these farmers are being prevented from getting new crops planted," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Sweet corn generally flowers in December. The crops must be removed before there is any risk of pollination," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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