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10 October 2002
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has been advised that that the potential for horizontal gene transfer of material from the spray it plans to use to wipe out the painted apple moth in western parts of Auckland is highly unlikely.
MAF's painted apple moth project director, Ian Gear, said today that the spray's manufacturer had assured him that Foray 48B was entirely appropriate for the purpose MAF intended.
"MAF would like to assure people who live and work in the painted apple moth zone that the spray has been chosen because it is proven to be an effective means of killing caterpillars yet with low risks to human health and a negligible environmental impact," Ian Gear said.
"Our panel of technical experts has recommended both Foray 48B and aerial spraying as the most effective combination to wipe out the painted apple moth. Cabinet has approved this recommendation and MAF is now in the process of delivering the eradication programme.
"The active ingredient in the Foray spray is a naturally-occurring soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki or Btk for short. This product has been widely used throughout the world for over 30 years as a highly effective means of killing caterpillar pests. Some Btk products are approved organic pest control agents.
"An initial stage of manufacturing Foray spray is a broth made from soy or other flour materials. Concern has been expressed that these flour materials may contain genetically modified material that may pass from the spray into the environment.
"I have been advised by the manufacturer of Foray that they do not knowingly use ingredients containing GM material. I have also been advised that Foray spray contains no added soy or other flours, and any DNA present is likely to be in small non-functional fragments. Available evidence indicates that horizontal gene transfer in this case is both very unlikely and, if it did occur, would be of negligible consequence," Ian Gear said.
"MAF has put in place a painted apple moth health service to provide information to health professionals and to people with concerns about how the Foray spray may affect their health. We have a free-phone service available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and we encourage people to use that service. The number to call is 0800 96 96 96."
Brett Sangster, MAF Director Corporate Communications