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MAF GE Seed Regime Will Be No Guarantee

7 May 2002

MAF GE Seed Regime Will Be No Guarantee - Calls For A Ban On Seed Imports From Countries Where GE Crops Are Grown.

It is timely that MAF is issuing a discussion paper on GE seeds, but there are concerns that a 0.1% threshold of GE contamination is being set. This brings into question the importation of seeds from countries where GE crops are grown.

'Many are suggesting that a ban would be the only way to ensure GE pollution does not happen here' said Susie Lees of GE Free New Zealand in Food and Environment. 'It appears that genetic pollution is hard to track after the event which is why we are demanding prevention not cure!'

The cautionary news of contamination of Mexican heritage maize seed despite a ban on importation and growing of GE seeds has raised considerable doubts as to the best ways of protecting conventional crops. The accidental contamination not only of seed grains appears in this case to have resulted from imported GE food maize.

Crops that may now be entering New Zealand contaminated by GE include maize, canola, tomatoes and squash. Maize and pop corn regulations are due to be in place by 1 August and canola by 1 January.

On April 19th delegates at the Convention for Biological Diversity in the Hague voted overwhelmingly to consider GMOs as "invasive species." Invasive species are those considered to be a threat to biodiversity.

An official inquiry set up after large tracts of the British countryside were inadvertently sown with GM-contaminated canola, has reportedly completely failed to discover the source of the contamination.

The NZ Law Commission report is expected out shortly to look at liability as well as other issues such as personal injury, property damage and financial or economic loss due to genetic engineering.

'We believe that GE developers must shoulder all financial costs of damage resulting from GE experiments or releases,' said Susie. 'There are questions primarily about liability and but also about ethics which need to be answered satisfactorily before the government vote on GE releases.'

The Bio-ethics Committee recommended by the Royal Commission has yet to be set up.
The "GE-Release clause" in the new HSNO bill is being voted on next week.
This allows approval of commercial release in NZ from October 2003. ENDS


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