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PSRG Distressed At Reports Of GE Contaminated Corn

10 July 2002

PSRG Distressed At Reports Of GE Contaminated Corn Seed

Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics are distressed at reports of 178 hectares of Hawkes Bay being planted with contaminated Novartis Bt-11 corn seed. This is a frightening breach of New Zealand's bio-security.

An immediate audit of all other imported seed shipments for the last few years must be made, and every effort made to protect the integrity of New Zealand's agriculture and environment in the future.

This infringement of the moratorium on commercial releases demonstrates that the belief of the ERMA and government that New Zealand has tight regulatory control needs to be seriously re-examined. Discarding warnings that this seed may have been contaminated and accepting industry explanations ignores the concerns of the New Zealand public and many scientists here and overseas.

A zero tolerance for transgenic contamination of imported seed is the only acceptable criteria for the responsible protection of New Zealand's agricultural industry and environment. Even a fraction of a percent contamination can mean thousands of plants and serious contamination. Seed needs to be imported from GE free environments or New Zealand could become a major producer of non-transgenic seed if this incident has not already contaminated our environment.

It is also imperative that organic and other farmers within a minimum 10 km radius of the areas planted with the contaminated seed should be tested for transgenic material contamination. If there is contamination government should compensate those farmers.

(240 words)


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