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Report on alleged GMO contamination

12 March 2004

Report on alleged GMO contamination at Forest Research facility finds no evidence of Biosecurity risk.

MAF has completed an investigation into recent allegations by a former Forest Research scientist that non- GM Pinus taeda shared the same Forest Research containment facility as GM Pinus radiata at Rotorua in 1995.

There was some concern expressed that Pinus taeda could have been infected with pitch canker fungus and could have in turn infected the GM Pinus radiata.

This issue was also raised with ERMA and at the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification in 1999 and 2000.

“ MAF concludes that, while there was a breach of the Plant Import Health permit when Pinus taeda plants were removed from the laboratory and transferred to the GMO facility, this did not result in any Biosecurity risk, Director of Forest Biosecurity Peter Thomson said today.

“MAF has to shoulder some of the responsibility for the technical breach as the wording in the permit was vague as to what laboratory the Pinus taeda were to be held in.

The plants in the Pinus radiata GM field test, which are alleged to have been exposed to the Pinus taeda have been intensively monitored and have been found to be in good health.

“Several years prior to these allegations, MAF recognised anomalies in the Plant Import Health permits and instituted appropriate changes. MAF is confident thatthis, combined with the containment procedures and protocols currently being followed by Forest Research, will safeguard against future breaches of this nature.” Mr Thomson said.

MAF considers no further action is required.


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