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GM-Corn? Key Scientific Evidence Absent

Allegations by author Nicky Hager that a shipment of Idaho sweetcorn imported in October 2000 contained GM seeds appears to have no sound scientific basis. “If this allegation is without substance, then Hagar’s book, Seeds of Distrust, with its accusations of conspiracy and political cover-up is not worth the paper it is written on” said Mike Berridge, President of the NZ Association of Scientists.

The allegations centre around a shipment of certified GM-free corn about which questions were raised in routine testing carried out by the Crown Company, Crop and Food. Because control seed samples as well as some test samples scored positive, the results were clearly inconclusive. “These results should not be interpreted as positive unless they are repeated and the controls negative” said Dr Berridge. “It is quite wrong for the media and commentators to refer to this as a positive result”.

Overseas testing was conducted and this resulted in none of the 9 seed samples scoring positive in all three of the different tests performed. The overall conclusion from these test results must be that there was no consistent evidence of GM contamination.

If there is no evidence of GM contamination, and subsequent testing carried out overseas at the request of the importing company has routinely been negative, then the accusations made in the book have no substance.

Dr Berridge said that it is quite unacceptable that expert scientific advice on interpretation of the tests was not sought by Hager and by the media before going public with the story. This is yet another case of intuition and innuendo upstaging the scientific evidence, at great cost to this country.

Dr Mike Berridge
NZ Association of Scientists

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