GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 09th October 2005

Call for MAF to improve biosecurity protocols

GE Free (NZ) is calling on MAF to improve their biosecurity protocols for seed imports into NZ to ensure that the current zero tolerance standard for GE contamination remains in place. "To date, MAF's monitoring of such contamination has been poor," said spokesperson Claire Bleakley. This puts NZ's primary producers, economy and environment at risk."

GE Free (NZ) is particularly concerned that MAF has permitted farmers to replant maize or sweet corn at a number of North Island sites where the illegal GE-contaminated maize Liberty Link T25 was discovered last year. Planting has occurred despite concerns raised by local authorities and primary producers about GE volunteers (generally volunteers are plants that haven't been planted but have planted themselves).

"As corn is wind pollinated, it (the pollen) can travel miles. If care is not taken, even a small amount of GE pollen can cause extensive contamination" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

"Pollution from GMOs cannot be controlled once in the open environment. MAF should improve its biosecurity protocols now to avoid further problems.

Liberty Link GE corn plants contain an antibiotic marker gene, bacterial insecticidal proteins (Bt) and viral gene fragments in every cell of the plant. Crops producing Bt proteins continually manufacture their own
insecticidal toxins, which are always present at high levels within the plant. Published experiments have shown immune system damage, heart and kidney abnormalities and blood disorders in laboratory animals fed with GE crops. No clinical diagnostic tools are available to test for adverse effects in humans.

"MAF must ensure that any fields that contained GE contaminated maize are not replanted with maize or sweet corn," said [.....]. A recent British study has shown that GE canola seed can still be viable after 15 years. It is also possible that stray GE corn seed may remain viable for some years. Weedkillers such as Roundup are unlikely to kill GE seed.

Japan and Europe, two of New Zealand's major trading partners, specify that non-GE crops, which command a premium price, must contain no GE DNA.GE-FreeNZ has urged MAF to move swiftly to protect farmers and the environment from GE contamination by improving their biosecurity procedures.


Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842



* Lutman PJW et al , 2005. Persistence of seeds from crops of conventional and herbicide tolerant oilseed rape (Brassica napus). Proc.R.Soc B (2005) 272, 1909-1915 22nd September 2005.

* Roundup Ready Sudden Death, Superweeds, Allergens. Time to Wipe GM Crops Off the Globe. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins update on the failures of the most widely planted GM crop. ISIS Press Release 03/10/05<>
Sustainability Council of NZ Media Release of 17 Aug 2005

"Strong Public Support for Zero Tolerance to GM Contamination" There has been very limited reform of border detection systems since the illegal GE breach in 2003 and the review this triggered. MAF's current test for imported seed uses such a small sample size that around 5% of the time, the single test required will not show up GMOs at concentrations of 0.1% or less. New Zealand food producers that are serious about detecting GM content use between two and fifteen times the sample size MAF requires. Trebling the
number of seeds used would reduce from 5% to 1% the chances of the border test missing GM contamination at a level of 0.1%.

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