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MAF supervising harvesting of GM maize

Friday 4 June 2004

MAF supervising harvesting and processing of GM maize

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) today announced that, weather permitting, it expected to see the harvesting and further processing of fields of maize containing low levels of GM material completed in about 14 days time.

“Operations are currently running smoothly, with excellent co-operation from all of the parties involved,” MAF’s plants biosecurity director Richard Ivess said.

“MAF officials are supervising the harvest, transportation, processing and storage of the grain involved. They are also developing protocols with growers to monitor fields to ensure that any seeds that germinate after harvesting are destroyed.

“Once the maize seed has been rendered incapable of germination, MAF will allow grain companies to market it. The GM construct identified is present at extremely low levels and has been approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand,” Richard Ivess said.

The problem of low levels of GM seeds accidentally being present in corn seed for planting is one being faced in many countries. The problem is likely to become more common as the global plantings of GM corn are increasing at a very rapid rate, and New Zealand is largely dependent on imported sweet corn and maize seed for planting.

MAF, in conjunction with other agencies, is currently looking at how other countries are coping with the problem and focusing on the practicalities of maintaining a policy of zero tolerance for the accidental presence of GM seed. Policy options will be evaluated and advice provided to Ministers,” Richard Ivess said.

ENDS

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