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11 December 2006
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's (MAF) investigations have cleared the Mid-Canterbury plantings of Krispy King sweet corn and the Hawkes Bay region planting of the GH2042 sweet corn variety, but seed tests for the Jubilee Plus/Dominion consignments planted in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay regions have produced positive GM results and these crops will be destroyed.
This decision to clear the Krispy King and GH2042 plantings has been based on the receipt of results from three negative GM tests that were conducted prior to MAF's investigation being launched. MAF usually only requires one negative test result. These consignments were originally accompanied by incorrect documentation.
Syngenta has supplied information about seed sorting technologies designed to remove maize seeds from sweet corn seedlots. MAF has obtained favourable independent advice about the effectiveness of these sorting technologies as a means of minimising the most likely sources of GM material.
Growers who have planted these sweet corn varieties will be contacted by MAF inspectors over the next day regarding the removal of Restricted Place notices that have been issued under the provisions of the Biosecurity Act. Seed secured by MAF will be released to merchants and growers.
Syngenta notified MAF late on Friday 8 December that further testing requested by MAF for the Jubilee Plus/Dominion consignments had produced positive GM results. MAF has now received and reviewed those results, and withdrawn biosecurity clearance for these consignments.
MAF is now contacting affected growers regarding destruction of these crops as soon as practicable, starting immediately. Restricted Place notices will remain in force for all affected properties, all of which are in the Hawke's Bay or Gisborne regions, until MAF is satisfied that all plants have been destroyed. Seed secured by MAF will be either shipped overseas or destroyed.
It is not yet known what GM construct was present in the affected Jubilee Plus/Dominion consignments. Syngenta is undertaking additional tests to endeavour to determine this.
The following table provides location details of each of these consignments.
MAF believes that Syngenta has a duty of care to ensure that seed containing GM is not exported to New Zealand. MAF also believes that it has a duty of care to ensure that seeds containing GM are not knowingly cleared for entry into New Zealand. MAF is interested in the discussions between Syngenta and affected parties regarding contracting arrangements and possible compensation. MAF does not wish to see growers disadvantaged as a result of this situation.
For more information on this investigation, please refer to http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/regs/imports/plants/gmo
Brett Sangster, Director Corporate Communications
Phone: 0-4-894 0165 or 0-29-894 0165