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GM sweet corn – Questions and answers

GM sweet corn – Questions and answers

Wednesday 9 July 2003

1. How much sweet corn was grown?

A: About 22ha, in four fields.

2. Where is the sweet corn that was harvested?

A: Apart from about 10 tonnes sent to Japan as a trial shipment, the balance is in a warehouse in Gisborne. This has been confirmed by the MAF audit team.

3. Are there any discernible differences between the four fields in terms of test results received so far?

A: This is currently an area of focus for MAF investigators. Seed and product samples from each of the four fields are currently being tested to see if there are any discernible differences.

4. Were there any sweet corn or maize crops grown in fields adjacent to the four fields in question?

A: Yes. MAF investigators are currently determining the extent of these plantings and seeking information from land holders and processing companies regarding the varieties grown, planting dates, flowering dates and whether samples of seed planted and product harvested are available. The exact number of fields involved is not known at this time. If these crops can be shown not to have been flowering at the same time as the crops in question, then they can be immediately eliminated for further investigation for cross-pollination risk.

5. What did the audit of the company reveal?

A: The audit revealed a highly professional and co-operative company with robust and detailed records, processes and systems. It also produced a considerable amount of information that is now being considered by MAF investigators in conjunction with their investigations into products, seeds and the fields in question.

6. Is MAF planning to test more seeds and products?

A: Testing has been arranged to determine whether there are any discernible differences between seeds planted in and product harvested from each of the four fields in question. Some testing may be required from adjoining sweet corn or maize crops, if records indicate these may have been flowering at the same time as the crops in question. This part of the investigation will be very time consuming.

7. What tests has MAF concluded on sweet corn samples so far?

A: On 5 July 2003 AgriQuality GMO Services, Melbourne, reported after qualitative tests on positive samples on 3 July, that less than 0.05 percent of the processed corn was genetically modified. The gene-specific tests for the construct showed that the genetic modification involved Bt11. Bt11 is an insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant construct which is the only commercially available GM sweet corn. The sample tested negative for the Maximiser (BT176), BtXtra (DBT418), Roundup Ready (GA21), LibertyLink (T25), YieldGard (MON810), Roundup Ready (NK603), StarLink, B16, MaxGard, SeedLink (MS3), YieldGard (MON801, 802 and 805), Roundup Ready (MON 832, 831 and 809), and SeedLink (MS6) varieties of GM corn. The sample also tested negative for the Roundup Ready GM soy variety which is the most widely grown variety of GM soy.

8. When does MAF expect to conclude its investigations?

A: By the end of next week (18 July 2003) MAF expects to have obtained sufficient information to conclude its investigations. It is possible, given the extremely low level of GM contamination involved, that the exact cause or pathway may never be determined.

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