MAFBNZ investigating possible GM breach of containment

30 November 2009

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) is investigating a possible breach of containment, reported by Plant & Food Research, around a containment glasshouse located on the Plant & Food Research campus at Lincoln.

The investigation involves Arabidopsis plants, which have tested positive for GM constructs, being found immediately outside the glasshouse. Other Arabidopsis plants found within a few metres of the glasshouse have also been tested and the results were negative. All test results are currently being validated and potential sources for the gene constraints are being investigated.

Arabidopsis is a widespread weed in New Zealand and is not considered a weed of significance. It is commonly and widely used within plant genomics, both as a research tool and a teaching aid.

MAFBNZ staff have visited the glasshouse site and are carrying out further investigations. A review is also underway of all recent audits carried out by MAFBNZ of other facilities using Arabidopsis plants for research. Additional collection and testing of Arabidopsis plants around the glasshouse will be carried out to determine the extent of the breach.

ERMA was informed of the GM breach by MAFBNZ on Wednesday afternoon 25 November following the receipt of positive test results.

It is MAFBNZ’s responsibility to monitor and enforce conditions imposed by ERMA.

MAFBNZ regard a breach of containment as a serious matter and investigations are underway to identify how and when the breach occurred.

Media contact:

Annie Wright, Senior Communications Advisor
Phone: 04 894 0654, Mobile: 029 894 0654, Email:

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