INDEPENDENT NEWS

MAF admit they don't know if aerial spray is OK

Published: Mon 7 Oct 2002 04:24 PM
MAF admit they don't know if aerial spray is GE contaminated
Environmental Groups are appalled that the Ministry for Agriculture & Forestry (MAF) doesn't know whether or not the aerial spray being used against the Painted Apple Moth in West Auckland contains genetically engineered material.
In an admission to Waitakere City Council on Monday 6th October, Ian Gear, Project Director, said he could not assure councillors that the spray, Foray 48B, was free of genetically engineered ingredients. The admission follows a public meeting last Thursday during which MAF refused to even answer the question about possible GE-contamination.
Local campaigner Dr Meriel Watts, of the Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa NZ (PAN ANZ), and member of the Painted Apple Moth Community Advisory Group, said the chance that the spray was contaminated with genetically engineered material was very, very high.
The bacterial ingredient of the spray Btk, is grown on a nutrient broth, consisting largely of soy and corn, in the USA where virtually all supplies of these materials are GE-contaminated.
"MAF have confirmed that the spray contains soy and corn" says Meriel, "but it seems that they have not even bothered to test the it for GE residues".
Hana Blackmore, also a member of the Community Advisory Group and representing the Society Targeting Overuse of Pesticides (STOP), agrees.
"At a time when GE contaminated corn sites are being dug in and seeds destroyed, the idea that MAF itself is almost certainly spraying GE contaminated material over tens of thousands of hectares is bizarre. That they could continue to use it every three weeks for the next three years without testing is totally unethical."
In an ironic twist, Waitakere City Council declared itself GE free last year, and has a burgeoning organic cluster. But Hana says this only heightens the concerns of groups opposing aerial spraying.
Campaign groups intend to raise the matter with parliament as a matter of urgency, and will be asking for the suspension of the $90 million campaign.

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