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Greens Warn Of Butterfly-killing Maize In NZ

Green Party warns of butterfly-killing maize in New Zealand

Tomorrow the Environmental Risk Management Authority will be holding a public hearing into growing genetically engineered maize which is similar to a crop shown to kill Monarch butterflies in a New York university experiment.

The hearing comes a year after genetically engineered maize seeds were exported from a Pukekohe site by the same applicant company, Pioneer Hi-Bred.

"I am deeply concerned about this application for several reasons," Ms Fitzsimons said. "Firstly it is generally believed that there has been no commercial growing of genetic engineering material in 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 and the May 22 issue of New Scientist]. 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'," she said.

Tomorrow's hearing has been resheduled after first being publicised as taking place on July 30. Ms Fitzsimons said she is disturbed that failure to provide information to some objectors within the statutory timeframe had led to rescheduling of the hearing, with uncertainty and extra cost for other objectors. There are ERMA delays also in its reports on the King Salmon genetic engineering experiment and canola field trials.

ERMA is to hold tomorrow's public hearing at 9.30am at the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce, 109 Featherston Street.

A protest outside the venue involving Revolt Against Genetic Engineering (RAGE), Greenpeace and Green Party members will start at 8.45am.


ENDS

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