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All GE Corn Must be Destroyed

All GE Corn Must be Destroyed

Auckland, 4 December 2006: Greenpeace said today all GE contaminated corn must be pulled up and destroyed, following the discovery that some 1.8 tonnes of GE corn have been imported into New Zealand, distributed and grown.

Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid expressed alarm that one option being considered by MAF was allowing farmers to continue growing the corn and then to export it.

"Allowing the corn to grow and be harvested would be total madness," said Bunny McDiarmid. "This could result in the contamination of naturally bred non-GE corn in the region. Corn must be pollinated in order for kernels to form, and wind carries corn pollen for kilometres. This means that cross contamination would be certain. We already know from the experience of Mexico that GE contamination in corn is a reality and the costs to exports have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars."(1)

The environmental contamination would impact our GE-free status which in turn would impact our export industry.

"All contaminated corn must be pulled up and safely destroyed, so as to elliminate any material that could reproduce," said Bunny McDiarmid. "The breach in our border protocols must be fixed immediately and the farmers compensated for the loss of their crop."

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Note to editors:

(1) Starlink maize was grown in the USA for animal feed but was not approved for human consumption. It was genetically modified to contain a gene from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, which is coded for an insecticidal Bt toxin Cry0C. In 2000, sampling of US food aid found Starlink maize contamination in taco shells at levels around the limit of detection – 0.1%. Costs to the company Aventis are estimated at US $500 million in payments to farmers, food producers and processors who had to withdraw food products.

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A report released in March shows the extent of GM contamination worldwide. The report is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/gm-contamination-report.

Examples of contamination involving maize (corn) can be found at the GM Contamination register online at: http://www.gmcontaminationregister.org/index.php?content=re®=0&inc=0&con=0&cof=1&year=0.

A Greenpeace briefing on the Mexican corn contamination, Maize Under Threat, is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/maize-under-threat-ge-maize.pdf.

ENDS

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