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Maize Seed Importer Cooperating With MAF

MEDIA STATEMENT
Thursday May 13, 2004

MAIZE SEED IMPORTER COOPERATING WITH MAF

The company which last year imported hybrid maize seed from the United States, certified GM free, but which was subsequently found to contain a very low level of a Genetically Modified event, is cooperating at all levels possible to trace all of the seed, whether planted or not.

The company says all unsold stocks of the particular hybrid seed held by Corson Grain have been taken over by MAF and will not be sold for planting.

Mr John Corson, managing director of Gisborne based Corson Grain Ltd said, "We are giving MAF every assistance and cooperation and likewise are receiving similar cooperation from the grain and seed industry through which the particular seed was distributed. We are confident that all suspect seed, whether planted or not, will be accounted for promptly so that MAF can assess whether there is any risk to the environment from the extremely low level of GM content detected and whether any further action is needed as a result of this breakdown in border control procedures."

Mr Corson said the company had complied totally with MAF's importation and international phytosanitary requirements prevailing at the time of importation, and this has been confirmed by MAF.

"The suspension in March this year of the accreditation of the USA testing laboratory previously approved by MAF, together with the zero GMO tolerance level on seed imported into New Zealand, have complicated the present situation and accentuated the need for a more robust and achievable testing regime in line with recognized international standards."

Mr Corson said the suspect imported seed planted was only a very small percentage of the particular hybrid variety of maize planted in New Zealand last spring.

Corson Grain's 2003/2004 production of the hybrid, to be harvested shortly, as expected is expected to produce very high quality seed. Only seed from this New Zealand production will be offered in the market in the coming spring.

Corson Grain has extensive experience in the hybrid seed corn industry, being involved since the early 1950's. Throughout this time it has always worked closely with MAF officials in the development of protocols established to prevent organisms entering New Zealand that could be detrimental to the New Zealand seed and food industries.

Ends

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