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Almost certain is not good enough on GE, Jim

5 December 2006

Almost certain is not good enough on GE, Jim - Greens say

Questioning by the Green Party in Parliament today has revealed that the GE contaminated sweet corn scandal is far worse than was originally thought.

Under questioning by Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton admitted that the amount of contaminated sweet corn allowed into New Zealand by MAF was more than double that originally thought.

"It seems that further investigations have revealed that four consignments totalling 4.42 tonnes, not 1.8 tonnes, were okayed for import, despite having certification to show that it was contaminated with GE," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Most of the seed, which originates from Syngenta in the United States, has been planted in the Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Blenheim and Ashburton.

"The importation of these seeds threatens New Zealand's GE-free status and puts at risk our agricultural sector.

"New Zealanders deserve an assurance that remaining seeds and all the plants currently in the ground will be destroyed," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"These seeds are unapproved organisms under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act and therefore illegal under the Biosecurity Act. MAF does not have the authority to decide, after 'consultation', to let them mature, flower and seed.

"However, when I asked the Minister to give an assurance the plants and seeds would be disposed of, he could not. The closest he got was: 'It's almost certain, in my view, that the plants and the seeds will be destroyed'.

"That's just not good enough."

"The affected growers have already lost a large amount of the growing season, any further procrastination will only leave them less time to get non-GE crops into the ground," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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