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Minister Warns Seed Co's Over GE Contamination

Minister Warns Seed Companies Over GE Contamination

New Zealand is being exposed to potentially massive economic damage unless the next government addresses the issue of liabilty for GE contamination.

Kim Chance- Minister of Agriculture in Western Australia has warned biotech seed companies like Monsanto that they will have to face clean-up costs if they fail to control their patented genetic material and stop contaminating conventional crops.

The warning come after another contamination incident involving canola which has raised concern for the region's GE-free exports and is a wake-up call for New Zealand farmers.

The next government must give priority to protecting New Zealand's exports by introducing strict liabilty laws to ensure the polluter pays for costs of clean-up for GE contamination.

"It is time for a cross-party consensus on the need to protect GE free production in New Zeaand, whether Don Brash or Helen Clark is in power," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

" As well as avoiding imports of seeds from the most contaminated regions, introduction of leaf-disc testing for at-risk crops will also allow GE contamination to be weeded out each season, and needs to be funded," Mr Carapiet says.

"GE-Free NZ is becoming as iconic for this country as our Nuclear-free status is on the world stage. There is a clear cultural shift which has become defining over the last three years," says Mr Carapiet.

"75 % of New Zealanders support preserving GE free production, as do Federated Farmers, and Maori, and church groups, and our export markets, and our leading musicians, actors, artists, wine-makers and chefs. That breadth of support is a fundamental cultural shift".

It is wrong for National and Labour to promote "socialising of risk" on farmers and taxpayers when companies like Monsano should be held liable for costs if their patented genes end up where they are not wanted. GE seeds are definitely not wanted in New Zealand.

ENDS

http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2417

13 September 2005

MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY;

THE MID-WEST; WHEATBELT

MEDIA STATEMENT

Attention: News Editor/Chief of Staff

13/9/05

Traces of GM canola found in variety trials

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance today called on GM companies to take greater care and responsibility for their product or face clean up costs in Western Australia following another contamination incident in WA.

Mr Chance said trace levels of Monsanto’s GM canola had been found in two varieties of non-GM canola grown in National Variety Trials (NVT) in WA and that similar incidents had been reported in other canola-growing States.

“Fortunately, the low trace level of GM material means there is no immediate threat to access to overseas markets or the environment,” Mr Chance said.

The GM level detected at the trial sites was 0.04 per cent, which is well below international market standards. The harshest standard in the world is that of the European Union at 0.9 per cent.

“Regretfully, the GM companies appear unable to contain their product within the laboratory or within Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) trial sites and they appear unable or unwilling to respect WA’s moratorium or those in place in other Australian jurisdictions,” Mr Chance said.

The NVT program is funded and managed by the Grains Research Development Corporation and there are two canola NVT trial sites in Western Australia.

These trial sites are now being treated as GM sites and will be managed in accordance with established and approved protocols.

“Because the trace levels are so low, I am allowing the variety trials to be completed as they will provide valuable information. If these trials presented any danger to our reputation I would not allow them to continue,” Mr Chance said.

The crops are currently flowering and all grain harvested from the sites once the trials are completed will be destroyed. The sites will then be monitored and any volunteer canola plants that germinate will be destroyed before they can flower.

“I am confident that these measures will manage the current situation. However, should such incidents recur in the future I will require the contaminated area to be destroyed,” Mr Chance said.

“I shall be raising the issue of GM contamination and the need for strict liability legislation as a matter of urgency at the next meeting of the Primary Industry Ministerial Council.

“I will be seeking urgent advice from the Department of Agriculture on the means necessary to ensure that such events do not recur in WA while our moratorium is in place.”

“The Gallop Government is committed to protecting and enhancing Western Australia’s agriculture and unique environment.”

ENDS

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