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Time to abandon zero tolerance of GM

27 July 2005

Time to abandon zero tolerance of GM

Life Sciences Network Media Release

The discovery of GM presence in a maize consignment in the North Island is another reminder that it is time the Government abandoned zero tolerance, the Chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston said today.

"Six episodes of GM in New Zealand crops proves that zero tolerance will never make us GE free, yet every time GM is detected, even at extremely low levels, MAF is obliged to divert valuable resources and swing an expensive emergency response procedure into action.

"The associated hysteria from anti GM groups does more damage to our country's trade image than the implementation of a scientifically determined tolerance level. Meanwhile the rest of the world is moving forward with the development of this valuable science, and more and more farmers are switching to the benefits of genetic modification.

"In October 2004 the Local Government and Environment Select Committee reported on "Corngate" and recommended in cases like this one "that where the seed has been planted, then those crops (but not unused seed) should be able to be grown, harvested, and consumed." The Government stated the recommendation had merit and would consider it further.

"We expect the New Zealand Government will take a fair and practical approach and not demand valuable produce be destroyed if it proves, as expected, that any GM presence is of a variety approved for consumption. This would be the first practical step towards abandoning zero tolerance of GM, which continues to show that its approved use is safe", Dr Rolleston concluded.

ENDS

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