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Finding Alternative Seed Source is NOT impossible

Finding Alternative Source for Seed is NOT "impossible"

The incident of contamination around Marlborough, Gisborne and Canterbury should be of concern to farmers selling their products overseas. The corn sold both for human and animal feed will compromise meat and milk exports as well as any corn exports. 'It is high time we sourced GE Free seed from areas in the world where contamination is not inevitable, as it appears with US-sourced corn seed.' said Jon Carapiet from GE Free New Zealand. ' We don't buy MAF's argument that nothing can be done about sourcing seed elsewhere or their justification that the current arrangements suit certain sectors of the agricultural industry’ he said.

‘Their systems for importation have been found to be seriously flawed by these continuing contamination events and this is happening repeatedly, not just once or twice.' It appears MAF accepted contamination as inevitable 2 years ago and have done nothing to change that view, or improve their checking system on compliance for seed-testing by importers. Failure to take action makes MAF complicit with the illegal importation of contaminants by default and this is unacceptable. The recently released ERMA independent review says that liason between MAF and ERMA is the weakest link in the system. The biosecurity threat is real and it is incredible to claim these problems will be resolved before the end of the moratorium in October. 'It appears from the report that MAF is more concerned about the issue of money than biosecurity. They are operating under cost constraints, and their monitoring and enforcement need to be improved,' said Jon Carapiet. Prevention is better than cure and importation from countries known to produce GE Free seed would aid the situation. It is time for a Ministerial directive to MAF to find these sources rather than carry on accepting contamination.

ERMA and MAF must be required to act in a thoroughly rigorous and protective manner. They are already losing the confidence of the public and this will worsen unless they quickly take action to negate any necessity for taxpayer funded mitigation and protect our export reputation. In August 2000, MAF biosecurity authority director, Barry O'Neill stated that MAF could not monitor the effects of GE, either in containment, or after commercial release. Nobody was monitoring such effects. Even if MAF had more funds, it lacked the skills to monitor effects of GE. (Evening Post, 5 August 2000).

It is fundamentally wrong and counter to the national interest for the moratorium to be allowed to lapse and for the reigns of power to be handed to ERMA and MAF.

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