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GM Maize Situation Update

Thursday 15 August 2002

GM maize situation update

On Wednesday 7 August 2002, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) was alerted by Pacific Seeds of Australia that they had detected evidence of GM contamination in maize seed grown and harvested in New Zealand earlier this year.

The notification to MAF followed routine post-harvest testing of maize seeds on 6 August 2002 by Pacific Seeds of Australia who had contracted for the maize to be grown in New Zealand on their behalf by contract growers at Gisborne and Pukekohe.

MAF has taken the following actions in consultation with the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA):

- Appointed enforcement officers to secure all seed harvested from the crops in question and left-over seed from the original parent lines.

- Taken representative samples from the harvested seed and the parent lines and arranged to send these to independent accredited laboratories in the US and Australia for testing. These results are not expected earlier than Thursday 22 August 2002.

- Arranged for destruction of all seeds in an approved facility, in line with Pacific Seeds' wishes. Destruction will begin on Friday 16 August 2002 and will take about one week to complete.

- Continued discussions with Pacific Seeds to obtain all relevant records relating to the original parent seed lines and to the manner in which these seeds were planted and the subsequent husbandry of those crops.

Pacific Seeds has given MAF the results of follow-up tests for specific gene sequences used in GM maize. Like the original results, these later results also showed evidence of GM contamination. However there are still some questions about why some of the test results have been negative, including the tests conducted before the parent lines were imported. The results of the tests arranged by MAF may help clarify these questions.

More detailed information on the current situation, including a briefing provided to Ministers on 13 August 2002, can be found on MAF's web site at: www.maf.govt.nz/gmseeds

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