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Wednesday 17 August 2005
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and New Zealand Food Safety
Authority's (NZFSA) investigations into a recent discovery of the presence of a
genetically modified organism (GMO) in harvested maize grain indicate that this
presence has not come from the maize itself, but rather from a residue of
imported soya bean meal held in the same storage or transport facilities.
On 27 July 2005 MAF announced that it was investigating a GMO-positive test
result from a maize sample following routine industry testing. The maize, stored
in the upper North Island, was tested as part of normal quality assurance
procedures and has been isolated while further investigations were completed.
Those investigations included sending samples to an accredited overseas
laboratory. None of this material has passed into the human food chain.
MAF eradication programmes manager Ian Gear said that in addition to
laboratory testing, MAF and the NZFSA have conducted an analysis of the storage
and processing facilities involved, and had received full support from the
companies involved as well as from the grain and seed industry.
"On the basis of all of the information we have received, we believe that the
GMO detected here came from imported soya bean meal, rather than from maize.
Laboratory testing of maize and soya bean meal have tested positive for a
Roundup-ready construct used in soy. This is approved under the Australia New
Zealand Food Standards Code. Our site investigations show that the same
facilities had recently been used for the storage of non-viable soya bean meal
imported for livestock feed. Maize samples taken from other silos containing the
same seed lines as those in the contaminated store have all tested negative to
the presence of GMOs," Ian Gear said.
The presence of a GMO in imported non-viable soy bean meal poses no
biosecurity risk, although presence of soy in the maize consignment may raise
issues of compliance with the Food Standards Code, for foods made from the
NZFSA Director (New Zealand Standards) Tim Knox, said "The Authority is
working closely with the companies involved and notes it has been advised that
the maize concerned will not be used in the manufacture of food for human
For further comment contact: Tim Knox, NZFSA Director (New Zealand
Standards); Tel: (04) 463 2651 or (021) 403 990 Ian Gear, MAF Eradication
Programmes Manager; Tel (04) 474 4275 or (027) 223 1748
For further information contact: Diane Robinson, NZFSA Senior
Communications Adviser; Tel (04) 463 2528 or (021) 193 6405 Brett Sangster, MAF
Communications Director; Tel (04) 498 9882 or (027) 247 8777