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12 March 2004
MAF has completed an investigation into recent allegations by a former Forest
Research scientist that non- GM Pinus taeda shared the same Forest Research
containment facility as GM Pinus radiata at Rotorua in 1995.
There was some concern expressed that Pinus taeda could have been infected
with pitch canker fungus and could have in turn infected the GM Pinus radiata.
This issue was also raised with ERMA and at the Royal Commission on Genetic
Modification in 1999 and 2000.
" MAF concludes that, while there was a breach of the Plant Import Health
permit when Pinus taeda plants were removed from the laboratory and transferred
to the GMO facility, this did not result in any Biosecurity risk, Director of
Forest Biosecurity Peter Thomson said today.
"MAF has to shoulder some of the responsibility for the technical breach as
the wording in the permit was vague as to what laboratory the Pinus taeda were
to be held in.
The plants in the Pinus radiata GM field test, which are alleged to have been
exposed to the Pinus taeda have been intensively monitored and have been found
to be in good health.
"Several years prior to these allegations, MAF recognised anomalies in the
Plant Import Health permits and instituted appropriate changes. MAF is confident
thatthis, combined with the containment procedures and protocols currently being
followed by Forest Research, will safeguard against future breaches of this
nature." Mr Thomson said.
MAF considers no further action is required.
For further information contact:
MAF Biosecurity Authority communications adviser Tina Nixon Ph 0-27-223 2789