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Jeanette Reveals BT Maize Seeds Were Exported

July 18, 1999

Jeanette Reveals BT Maize Seeds Were Exported From NZ

Public hearing 1yr after firm exports GE seeds

A public hearing is about to be held on growing genetically engineered maize at Pukekohe a year after genetically engineered seeds were exported from the site.

Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said approval was given for the original "trial" in 1997 before the public was aware of the risks, and before the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) was set up. Since then one of the types of mutant maize grown at Pukekohe in the summer of 1997-98 has been shown to kill Monarch butterflies in American research.

The new application from Pioneer is to plant more insect-resistant (BT) maize at Pukekohe next summer. ERMA is holding a public hearing on the application on July 30, at 9.30am at the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce, Featherston Street.

"I am deeply concerned about this application for several reasons," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Firstly it is generally believed that there has been no commercial release of genetic engineering material in or from New Zealand. But information I now have shows that at least in the case of Pioneer Hi-Bred this is questionable. The company exported its GE seed to France from Pukekohe last year.

"Secondly despite publicity about the risks to butterflies, Pioneer is planning another summer of this so-called 'trial'." [The Cornell University, New York, butterfly research was published in the May 20, 1999 issue of Nature magazine].

Ms Fitzsimons said she knew of no tests to find out if the genetic engineering "trial" in 1997-98 killed New Zealand butterflies, bees or other beneficial insects.

"The company says in its application to ERMA that `since this is a small scale trial for breeding purposes, we do not intend to monitor the populations of target and non-target organisms'."

Pioneer Hi-Bred is one of the world's largest genetic engineers, having more patents over genetically engineered crops than Monsanto, according to a recent issue of New Scientist magazine.

ENDS

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