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ERMA Corners Government

Auckland, 12 July 2002: Statements made today by Bas Walker the head of ERMA that “at no stage have we said categorically there was no contamination” directly contradict the lines being peddled by Helen Clark and Marian Hobbs since information of the release of GE corn was revealed in Seeds of Distrust on Wednesday.

Mr Walker stated on Checkpoint on National Radio this evening that “at no stage have we said categorically there was no contamination”.

Helen Clark on Checkpoint on National Radio on 10th July stated “there was no GM proven in the seeds”. She also stated in the Dominion Post on 11th July “extensive testing could not find any evidence of GM presence in those plants”.

Marian Hobbs press release on Wednesday 10th July states, “It cannot be claimed therefore that GM material was released …” and she maintained that position on 3 News last night.

“What is going on? Either ERMA is not talking to the Government or the Government is ignoring it’s own regulatory body and is still covering up the whole incident,” said Annette Cotter, Greenpeace spokesperson today.

Mr Walker confirmed that Dr Donald Hannah considered the full range of test results when he made his report to Government, and stated “there was no other written analysis of the test beyond [Donald Hannah’s] memorandum” and confirmed there was no further testing. Mr Walker also confirmed that Dr Hannah’s report was “the final scientific comment”.

“How then can the Government continue to deny that it knew the corn was GE contaminated? Dr Hannah’s “final scientific comment” was that there was “less than 0.5 percent GM contamination”11 Evaluation of Information Received for Novartis Jubilee Sweetcorn Lot NC9114, Donald Hannah, Manager, Science and Research, 5th December 2000..

“He never concluded that the corn was not contaminated, only that the level of contamination came under the Government’s judiciously selected allowable threshold.

“To conclude from these results that there was no GE contamination is like saying that tests show we only have chickens when results show that we have ninety nine chickens and one fox.”

Dr Hannah looked at the positive test results and determined that lab error resulting in ‘false positives’ was unlikely because the labs ran identical tests on ‘controls’ (seeds known to be GE free). These registered negative while the Lot NC9114 seeds registered positive. He also concluded that the contaminant was likely to be a GE variety Bt11.


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