Genetically modified seeds got into New Zealand

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Saturday, December 2, 2006

The New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is investigating how genetically modified (gm) seeds of sweet corn was knowingly cleared to enter New Zealand in October 2006.

The two consignments totaling 1,800 kilogram of gm sweetcorn originating from the United States was cleared by the quarantine service run by MAF. Each consignment had a certificate that showed that the seeds had not been gm but there was documentation available that showed that the two consignments had a presence of gm. Jeanette Fitzsimons, spokesperson for genetic engineering and the leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, said: "I am absolutely shocked and angered that 1.8 tonnes of sweet corn seeds crossed our border, even though the accompanying testing documentation showed that it was contaminated with GE."

MAF said that the presence of any GM seeds is extremely low because of the combination of the two results.

The amount of seeds of sweetcorn that entered New Zealand could amount of 400 hectares of sweetcorn.

MAF is checking where the seeds were planted and will contact the affected parties. Conclusions from the discussions will determine the outcome of the seeds and or the plants.

Ms Fitzsimons said: "This is an indication that too many people in MAF still don't take the issue seriously. There needs to be a major shake up among the people who constitute our first line of defence."

MAF is also conducting an investigation on how they can increase border security so it never happens again. Ms Fitzsimons said: "It is extremely disturbing to learn that our border is still not secure against GE contaminated seeds. It is even worse that it has taken two months to discover that."

"Our markets still show no sign of accepting GE foods or GE contamination and it would be suicidal not to listen to them. Nor do New Zealanders want to eat GE foods," Ms Fitzsimons said.


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