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Friday 4 July
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials today announced that they are
investigating a case of possible GM contamination of sweet corn grown in the
Gisborne region earlier this year.
The investigation also involves officials from the NZ Food Safety Authority,
ERMA New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment.
MAF Biosecurity group director Barry O'Neil said the investigations were
prompted by a New Zealand company alerting MAF of test results conducted in
Japan by a pizza manufacturing company that had conducted routine testing of a
proprietary topping mix. This mix contained sweet corn sourced from New Zealand.
"Upon receiving this information MAF, with the full co-operation of the
company, immediately moved to secure seed and product samples and arrange
independent testing through AgriQuality's GM testing facility in
Melbourne," Barry O'Neil said.
"Results received so far indicate no GM material in the seed that was
planted but indicate the presence of GM material in the harvested crop.
Follow-up tests are underway to confirm these results and to identify the exact
nature of the GM material involved.
"MAF investigators are working closely with the New Zealand company to
ascertain the extent of plantings of this corn variety; the nature of other
crops, particularly corn varieties grown adjacent to these; and the quantities
and final destination of the sweet corn that was harvested," Barry O'Neil
"The New Zealand Food Safety Authority is awaiting test results that
will confirm the variety and level of GM material contained in the corn. Based
on information currently available, it seems likely the GM variety contained in
this corn has been approved for human consumption in New Zealand. However if it
is not an approved GM variety, further action will be taken," NZFSA
Director of Dairy and Plant Products Tim Knox said.
"MAF is taking this investigation very seriously and is working closely
with ERMA New Zealand officials," Barry O'Neil said.
"There is still much we do not know about this particular event. Our
investigations currently underway should help answer many of the questions we
currently have. We will provide regular updates as we receive the results of
tests currently being conducted and determine the extent of any risks that may
"We have briefed Ministers and officials from the relevant Government
agencies. MAF values the high level of co-operation it is receiving from the
sweet corn exporter involved," he said.
For further information contact
Brett Sangster, MAF Director Corporate Communications 0-27-247 8777
Sharon Williams, NZFSA Communications Adviser 0-21-193 6405
Barry O'Neil, MAF Group Director Biosecurity 0-21-470 582
Tim Knox, NZFSA Director Dairy & Plant Products 0-21-430 990