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The New Zealand transgenic tamarillo trials

16 October 2001

The New Zealand transgenic tamarillo trials

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics (PSRG) acknowledge HortResearch agreeing to sterilize the topsoil at the Kerikeri transgenic tamarillo field trial site.

Discussion has been protracted over the eradication of any contamination of the soil by genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) resulting from these trials. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) had said there was no evidence a clean up was needed, but the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification acknowledged that the "considerable public doubt" about the adequacy of containment at the HortResearch site was justified.

Dr Max Turner, a soil scientist at Massey University, comments, “Sterilizing the soil by fumigating with any chemical does not destroy DNA. Whilst it is heartening to see soil issues being taken on board, there is unfortunately no obvious, simple means of treating soils to purge them of unwanted DNA. Partial soil sterilization is not the answer. What is urgently required is research, and an extension of the moratorium on field releases, to allow the risks of soil contamination to be explored and assessed. Incidentally, this situation applies equally to crop and animal systems in which genetically modified residues inevitably find their way into the soil.” Minister Marian Hobbs advises that MAF is monitoring the trial site at six-monthly intervals until 2003.

(213 words)

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16 October 2001

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