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Involve Gisborne and Pukekohe growers

Involve Gisborne and Pukekohe growers

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is calling on MAF and ERMA to work closely with Gisborne and Pukekohe growers worried about the effects of GE contamination.

MAF and ERMA today said its tests confirmed hybrid maize crops harvested at Pukekohe and Gisborne earlier this year by Pacific Seeds contained GE varieties in low concentrations.

Ms Fitzsimons said: "It is essential that MAF involve the local growers in the monitoring - in designing the monitoring protocols, sample collection and inspections. Local communities should always be involved in cases like this."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was reassuring the concentrations were low. But the risks of another GE contamination remained too high till New Zealand stopped importing potentially contaminated seed.

"New Zealand needs to work with companies and countries around the world to establish a trading network for certified GE-free seed," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said that while MAF and ERMA's tests suggested the presence of only 800 GE plants last season, they would have borne many thousands of seeds.

"While 800 plants may appear a small number, if each of them bore one cob - with a conservative estimate of 200 seeds on it - that is 160,000 GE maize seeds to plant the next season.

"Had they been planted in New Zealand, they would potentially produce 32 million seeds the following year, and that is a substantial source of contamination for other maize," she said.

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