PRESS RELEASE from PHYSICIANS AND SCIENTISTS FOR RESPONSIBLE GENETICS
16 October 2001
The New Zealand transgenic tamarillo trials
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics (PSRG) acknowledge HortResearch agreeing to sterilize the topsoil at
the Kerikeri transgenic tamarillo field trial site.
Discussion has been protracted over the eradication of any contamination of the soil by genetically engineered organisms
(GEOs) resulting from these trials. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) had said there was no evidence a
clean up was needed, but the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification acknowledged that the "considerable public doubt"
about the adequacy of containment at the HortResearch site was justified.
Dr Max Turner, a soil scientist at Massey University, comments, “Sterilizing the soil by fumigating with any chemical
does not destroy DNA. Whilst it is heartening to see soil issues being taken on board, there is unfortunately no
obvious, simple means of treating soils to purge them of unwanted DNA. Partial soil sterilization is not the answer.
What is urgently required is research, and an extension of the moratorium on field releases, to allow the risks of soil
contamination to be explored and assessed. Incidentally, this situation applies equally to crop and animal systems in
which genetically modified residues inevitably find their way into the soil.” Minister Marian Hobbs advises that MAF is
monitoring the trial site at six-monthly intervals until 2003.
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16 October 2001