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NZ bio-security needs block on seed-imports

New Zealand bio-security needs block on seed-imports from countries with GE variants.

Government must change law to make corporations liable for damage as GE spread threatens integrity of conventional and organic agriculture.

The government must learn the lessons from the most recent case of GE seed-contamination by requiring MAF to halt the import of seeds from countries where GM versions of a crop has been released.

" Industry have made excuses that avoiding seed from countries growing a GE crop could add costs or limit the choice of seeds. This incident confirms that those excuses are no longer acceptable and compromise our biosecurity, " says Jon Carapiet, a spokesperson for GE-Free New Zealand (in food and environment). " It is a false-economy in the long-term."

" New Zealand cannot afford to allow contamination to spread into food and seed production. Further delays in extending seed-testing protocols or half- hearted attempts to stop contaminated imports are not good enough,” says Mr Carapiet.

MAF should identify which biotech companies have the patents for the GE constructs that have caused the contamination, and legal changes should be made to ensure liability for damage rests with them rather than the public or New Zealand farmers whose crops could be contaminated in the future.

"This incident adds to contamination overseas which shows industry- accidentally or deliberately- are failing to control the spread of genetically modified constructs as they have promised", says Mr Carapiet.

This failure to stop contamination of seed is not only an economic threat to the majority of New Zealand farmers who want to grow GE-free crops, but also a step-by-step denial of consumer choice to avoid GE food as that contamination grows.

" The government are consulting on issues of liability but the Ministry says they have not proposed any changes to liability laws. It is time the government stopped dodging the issue and do something to halt the risk of the public having to pay out for mistakes made by private companies', says Mr Carapiet.."

New Zealand is already benefiting from one major seed company moving its seed-production here because we are GE-free. This opportunity is for New Zealand to supply GE-free seed to overseas markets threatened by the spread of GM crops.

The biotechnology industry’s push to use animals and plants to produce pharmaceuticals including corn to produce spermicides and other material for industry makes it absolutely vital that GE can be kept out of the conventional food system.

" If the biotech companies cannot keep GE contamination out of the existing agricultural system, they must not do it outside in the open. Forget the idea of 'conditional release'; the government must only allow such uses in full containment- if allowed at all."

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