GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 20th February 2005

MAF's Flawed Biosecurity Policy Sabotages Corn Crop

A failure in MAF's biosecurity protocols has placed the purity of some New Zealand farmers' crops at risk and could cost them thousands in lost sales.

MAF has failed to prevent replanting of maize crops in fields where contaminated GE maize was planted last year increasing the chance of ongoing contamination of crops as a result of seed surviving from one season to the other.

But detection of GE contamination in the next crop would likley hit farmers in the pocket as buyers discount such contaminated crops, and would harm New Zealand's export reputation internationally.

"It is time the government told MAF loudly and clearly that it must get its act together and institute what most New Zealanders would see as basic common sense on biosecurity," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

Last year a breakdown in testing protocols resulted in contaminated seed being planted at some 34 sites. But MAF has failed to apply basic biosecurity principles and require other plants to be planted so accidental regrowth from "volunteer" maize plants can be identified and weeded out. "This is utter incompetence and those responsible for the bungle should be held accountable," says Mr Carapiet

In response to questions from the Green Party, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs confirmed that MAF had allowed corn crops to be planted in 26 of the 34 fields implicated last time, 25 in Maize and one in sweet corn.

So far 'volunteer' plants have already been found in eight of the fields where the contaminated corn was planted, but have been destroyed.


Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681


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