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GM test results point to approved GM soy

Wednesday 17 August 2005

GM test results point to approved GM soy, not maize

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s (NZFSA) investigations into a recent discovery of the presence of a genetically modified organism (GMO) in harvested maize grain indicate that this presence has not come from the maize itself, but rather from a residue of imported soya bean meal held in the same storage or transport facilities.

On 27 July 2005 MAF announced that it was investigating a GMO-positive test result from a maize sample following routine industry testing. The maize, stored in the upper North Island, was tested as part of normal quality assurance procedures and has been isolated while further investigations were completed. Those investigations included sending samples to an accredited overseas laboratory. None of this material has passed into the human food chain.

MAF eradication programmes manager Ian Gear said that in addition to laboratory testing, MAF and the NZFSA have conducted an analysis of the storage and processing facilities involved, and had received full support from the companies involved as well as from the grain and seed industry.

“On the basis of all of the information we have received, we believe that the GMO detected here came from imported soya bean meal, rather than from maize. Laboratory testing of maize and soya bean meal have tested positive for a Roundup-ready construct used in soy. This is approved under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Our site investigations show that the same facilities had recently been used for the storage of non-viable soya bean meal imported for livestock feed. Maize samples taken from other silos containing the same seed lines as those in the contaminated store have all tested negative to the presence of GMOs,” Ian Gear said.

The presence of a GMO in imported non-viable soy bean meal poses no biosecurity risk, although presence of soy in the maize consignment may raise issues of compliance with the Food Standards Code, for foods made from the maize.

NZFSA Director (New Zealand Standards) Tim Knox, said “The Authority is working closely with the companies involved and notes it has been advised that the maize concerned will not be used in the manufacture of food for human consumption.”


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