Historic genetically modified seed import incidents

MPI's predecessor agencies responded to several incidents between 2001 and 2005 involving genetically modified seed imports. Explore archived documents released at the time under the Official Information Act.


Historic GM incidents

The Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI's) predecessor agencies – the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and its division Biosecurity New Zealand – dealt with a number of incidents involving genetically modified (GM) seed imports between 2001 and 2005. This page has information about the incidents with relevant documents that were released at the time.

'Operation Sand' - Maize 2005

A company's quality assurance testing showed up a GM-positive test in maize seed, which had been grown in the upper North Island. Further testing found the GM presence was due to contamination from GM soy flour that had previously been stored in the same holding area as the maize seed.

'Operation Cracked Kernel' - Maize 2004

An audit of a testing laboratory in the United States indicated potential issues with the way results were reported. Re-testing was arranged for seed consignments that had been imported the previous season.

'Operation Sunshine' - Sweet corn 2003

Routine testing found GM present in sweet corn exported from New Zealand to Japan. It was traced back and found to have been grown in Gisborne.

'Operation Pacific' - Maize 2002

Quality assurance tests indicated the presence of genetically modified maize seeds in crops harvested in Gisborne and Pukekohe in early 2002. The company voluntarily destroyed the seeds.

'Corngate' - Maize 2000/2001

Infamously dubbed 'Corngate', sweet corn seed imported from the United States was suspected to have been contaminated with genetically modified sweet corn seed.

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