INDEPENDENT NEWS

Authorities slammed over inadequate GM Clean-up

Published: Tue 20 Aug 2002 10:20 PM
Authorities slammed over inadequate GM Corn Clean-up.
Previous GM trials queried as cause of contamination.
GE Free New Zealand. Press release - 20 August 2002
Authorities slammed over inadequate GM Corn Clean-up. Previous GM trials queried as cause of contamination.
GE Free New Zealand In Food and Environment is demanding MAF and ERMA act immediately to clear remnants of corn reported by the NZ Herald to be littering the fields and being eaten by birds. There is also a demand for authorities to retain adequate quantities of the corn confirmed as GM-contaminated so that full tests can be undertaken. Currently MAF propose only keeping a few kilos of seeds and destroying the rest.
"We are looking to MAF to ensure they have enough material to research and study scientifically, if in the near future they turn round and say they haven't kept enough they are not fulfilling their duty,"said Jon Carapiet, a spokesperson for GE-Free NZ ( in food and environment).
Ge-Free NZ ( in food and environment)has for years been warning both National and Labour governments and their respective regulatory agencies that genetic contamination and pollution like that found in the Pacific and Corson Grain crops is likely to occur from the growing of GE crops and inadequate protection at the border.
'The clean -up must be thorough, but so too must be the testing to see how the contamination occurred, which company's GE constructs are responsible, and the degree of corn contamnination in NZ", said Mr Carapiet.
However scare-tactics from industry that all food is already or will soon be so contaminated that governments must allow a threshold of GE is being dismissed as cynical propaganda.
"We need to know exactly how far this corn contamination has spread, but at least according to industry evidence before the Royal Commission- most products in NZ are GE-free. It is not the end of a GE Free New Zealand as the biotech industry would have us believe' says Mr Carapiet.
'This is only one food crop and the incidences so far are only in two areas, both of which have hosted GE trials in the past. It is time for us to start learning why things have gone wrong, not covering it up or giving up on maintaining quality-standards or biosecurity.
There is a strong likelihood that there are local contamination issues here and it would be wise to avoid growing GE maize on these sites for some time."
It is imperative to establish with certainty how the seeds were contaminated. Some of the contaminating gene constructs had been used previously in trial crops so there is a suspicion that contamination could have arisen from previous trial crops.
The problems of tracking the source of contamination has resulted in groups calling for MAF to keep adequate samples of seeds from different batches, in containment until all avenues of investigation have been pursued. " The seeds are being incinerated this week at Auckland airport. The concern is that unless enough seed is kept for research, important scientific evidence will be destroyed," said Mr Carapiet. " If insufficient samples are kept for statistically-significant analysis then only MAF's scientific team will be to blame," said Mr Carapiet
Concerned-groups are calling for rigorous testing by MAF to be observed and for all sites to be thoroughly cleaned of all GE material.
More info Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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