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POLICY & REGULATION: MAF has allowed Kate Valley landfill to become New Zealandís next GE contaminated site



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   MAF HAS ALLOWED KATE VALLEY LANDFILL TO BECOME NEW ZEALAND?S NEXT GE CONTAMINATED SITE

SOURCE:  Voxy, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Steffan Browning

URL:     http://www.voxy.co.nz/business/maf-has-allowed-kate-valley-landfill-become-new-zealand039s-next-ge-contaminated/5/79682

DATE:    27.01.2011

SUMMARY: "MAF has allowed Kate Valley Landfill to become New Zealand?s next GE contaminated site, while dodging testing for GE contamination of more rogue brassica plants at Plant & Food Research?s Lincoln GE brassica field trial site, although MAF?s own rules demanded testing, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ, and GE Free NZ in food and environment. [...] ?In spring 2010 Plant & Food Research and MAF agreed to dig out soil likely to be contaminated with GE brassica seed and deep bury it, but ten days ago we have found that another brassica has still emerged,? said Soil & Health-Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning."

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MAF HAS ALLOWED KATE VALLEY LANDFILL TO BECOME NEW ZEALAND?S NEXT GE CONTAMINATED SITE

MAF has allowed Kate Valley Landfill to become New Zealand?s next GE contaminated site, while dodging testing for GE contamination of more rogue brassica plants at Plant & Food Research?s Lincoln GE brassica field trial site, although MAF?s own rules demanded testing, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ, and GE Free NZ in food and environment.

Soil & Health and GE Free NZ have monitored Plant & Food Research?s genetically engineered (GE) brassica trial site at Lincoln for further contamination following discovering a flowering GE kale there in 2008.

Following their investigation in 2009 which found that other GE brassica had also flowered in 2008, MAF, through a Compliance Order, had then set strict requirements including the testing for GE of all brassica found growing at the site following cultivations beginning in spring and summer 2010, and for 5 years of monitoring after the last brassica seedling was found.

?In spring 2010 Plant & Food Research and MAF agreed to dig out soil likely to be contaminated with GE brassica seed and deep bury it, but ten days ago we have found that another brassica has still emerged,? said Soil & Health-Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

?MAF and Plant & Food Research have said they did not need to test for GE because the brassica photographed was a different species to the oleracea used in the trial crop, but they ignored the controls previously set down and the ability of brassica to cross between species, because MAF want to let Plant & Food reduce monitoring to one year rather than the 5 years originally set.?

?They have messed up again and both are now trying to dodge their responsibilities.?

?Soil & Health-Organic NZ photographs from December show the MAF supervised soil removal has clearly spilt soil and seed back into the cleared plot, and all brassica in the plot and surrounding area must be tested for GE contamination for at least 5 years. MAF must stop chopping and changing rules to suit those responsible for one of New Zealand?s worst GE breaches.?

Plant & Food?s spokesman said that what they believe to be a wild turnip was likely to have blown in as seed, although a 2008 trial report stated that wild turnip were already growing there, and MAF?s 2009 investigation said that pollen from the site would unlikely to have been blown more than two metres.

?They can?t have it both ways. These duplicitous statements from MAF and Plant & Food, with earlier support by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), show a need for an independent look at GE risk management in New Zealand,? said Mr Browning.

GE Free NZ in food and environment Inc and Soil & Health-Organic NZ agree that contaminated sites need careful management but creating another contaminated site should only be through a public consultation process.

?The assurances that this toxic GE soil has been properly disposed of are meaningless if the previous GE incidents are an example? said Claire Bleakley President of GE Free NZ.

?This breached site has become a bungled set of untrustworthy and duplicitous platitudes. The strict protocols, that the public was assured are in place, are being changed and broken at every turn.?

?The removal of GE contaminated soil to Kate Valley landfill, North Canterbury is of concern. The toxic mix of pesticides and GE exudate loaded Plant & Food Research soil from Lincoln, could become mixed with the other highly injurious residues of almost everything imaginable, including multiple chemicals, food processing, hospitality, hospital and veterinary waste, further threatening the environment.?

?Landfill dumps are commonly associated with vermin that burrow into the soil living on the detritus that collects there. Landfills are a reservoir of contamination, and the movement of any GE contaminated soil not only threatens the countryside but also threatens the health of the community. It is not known where the soil was placed and if it is not totally isolated and clearly marked it could be mistakenly used as fill or leach into the surrounding country side.?

?I shared the concerns of North Canterbury residents when the Kate Valley landfill was first proposed. Never did I think it would also be a site for GE contamination,? said Mr Browning.

?Plant & Food Research must not consider that scraping a foot of soil off a GE site is somehow going to render the site uncontaminated. Horizontal gene transfer associated with genetic engineering has clearly and irresponsibly not been part of the thinking.?

Soil & Health-Organic NZ and GE Free NZ promote organic production and share a vision of an organic Aotearoa New Zealand. With no shortage of brassica species available, no genetic engineering is necessary, neither is contamination of soils. The certified organic properties both in Lincoln and near Kate Valley deserve the expertise that Plant & Food Research and MAF, away from GE, can offer for the growth in organics in New Zealand.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   PLANT & FOOD RESEARCH SHIFTED GE SOIL ILLEGALLY?

SOURCE:  Soil & Health Association of New Zealand, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/ge-soil-moved-illegally/

DATE:    24.01.2011

SUMMARY: "Where has Plant & Food Research taken the contaminated soil excavated from its botched genetically engineered brassicas Lincoln field trial site, and why weren?t stakeholders kept informed of changes to the compliance controls, the Soil & Health Association of NZ is asking. In December 2008 Soil & Health ? Organic NZ discovered an illegally flowering genetically engineered kale plant and several other flowering brassicas that had set seed pods among weeds at the Lincoln field trial site of Crown Research Institute Plant & Food Research. "

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PLANT & FOOD RESEARCH SHIFTED GE SOIL ILLEGALLY?

Where has Plant & Food Research taken the contaminated soil excavated from its botched genetically engineered brassicas Lincoln field trial site, and why weren?t stakeholders kept informed of changes to the compliance controls, the Soil & Health Association of NZ is asking.(1,2)

In December 2008 Soil & Health ? Organic NZ discovered an illegally flowering genetically engineered (GE) kale plant (3) and several other flowering brassicas that had set seed pods among weeds at the Lincoln field trial site of Crown Research Institute Plant & Food Research. (4,5,6,7)

The field trial was immediately closed and following an intensive investigation that revealed other GE flowering events, strict controls were imposed for at least 5 years to limit the spread of any GE material from the site.

?Plant & Food have now extended the contamination by removing the heavily herbicided and GE contaminated soil from the trial site late last year in an effort to reduce compliance efforts,? said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.

?This soil removal appears to be illegal under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO), although Plant & Food had expressed a commitment to Soil & Health ? Organic NZ to meeting whatever new controls were imposed, following my discovery of the flowering GE kale in 2008.?

?Plant & Food needs to make public the details of where the soil is, and what exact GE constructs were used in the original trial so that independent testing of crops in the Lincoln area can occur.?

Brassica species include vegetable plants such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, radish, turnip, rocket, rape, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, mizuna and several weeds. Brassicas are able to cross easily between species and Plant & Food grew several GE and non GE brassica species at the site where a weed brassica, wild turnip, was also reported.

Although Plant & Food have removed contaminated soil to more than 250mm depth, Soil & Health ? Organic NZ has recent photographs of a brassica and weed seedlings at the Lincoln GE field trial site, suggesting seed bearing top soil was spilt or the weeds have herbicide resistance.(8,9)

?What GE contaminated soil was spilt during transport from the GE field trial site to its new GE contaminated home?? asked Mr Browning.

?The removed soil is likely to have both seed and soil organisms contaminated by the previous GE program. If the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry ? Biosecurity NZ are complicit in the soil removal, then New Zealand?s GE regulatory system has totally broken down as there has been no public notification or application for a new GE site.?

?Plant & Food?s failed GE onion field trial location also needs to be made public, along with the exact GE constructs used there, so that civil society can ensure independent monitoring of potential contamination in the surrounding area.?

?Soil & Health ? Organic NZ is committed to a vision of an organic focused nation where Plant & Food Research and the other Crown Research Institutes resources are committed to a clean green 100% Pure GE Free Aotearoa New Zealand.?

NOTES:

- Photographs (1)-1630, (2)-1644, (3)-2448, (4)-2388, (5)-2410, (6)-2430, (7)-2450, (8)-2381, (9)-2451

- Reference: ERMA New Zealand Inquiry Report INQ08001 GM Brassica Field Test GMF06001

- Media Releases On Previous Plant & Food Breaches

- http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/1096/ngos-visit-ge-field-trial-site-today/

- http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/1161/maf-biosecurity-nz-and-plant-and-food-still-not-taking-ge-risk-seriously/

- http://www.organicnz.org/soil-and-health-press/1185/clean-up-lincoln-countryside-and-clean-out-nzs-ge-labs/



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   BIO-SECURITY AT GE TRIAL SITE GETS SOILED

SOURCE:  GE free New Zealand, New Zealand

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://press.gefree.org.nz/press/20110124.htm

DATE:    24.01.2011

SUMMARY: "Plant and Food has again failed to follow the strict conditions that regulatory authorities have set for the site of its GE crop trial. The removal of tonnes of soil from the Brassica field test site in Lincoln is in direct breach of the ERMA controls issued in relation to the most serious breach of regulatory protocols since GE field trials began in New Zealand."

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BIO-SECURITY AT GE TRIAL SITE GETS SOILED

Plant and Food has again failed to follow the strict conditions that regulatory authorities have set for the site of its GE crop trial.

The removal of tonnes of soil from the Brassica field test site in Lincoln is in direct breach of the ERMA controls issued in relation to the most serious breach of regulatory protocols since GE field trials began in New Zealand.

The GE trial of cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and kale that were genetically engineered with a range of genes (Cry) isolated from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The gene insertion produces high levels of insecticide that kills caterpillars. The Bt insecticide genes when engineered into corn and soy plants have been linked to immune system and blood defects, digestive problems and sterility.

In December 2008 a serious bio-security breach was identified at the secret site, 14 months into the trial?s ten year approval, when two plants, one a flowering plant was discovered. After a 9 month investigation regulators issued a Compliance Order that imposed monitoring conditions at the site for five years and specifically required the applicant to leave the site fallow, to apply herbicide regularly, and at every season of the 5 years to plough and check seedling re-growth. All soil under the compost heap and the compost containing GE flowering material was required to be autoclaved to prevent risk of contamination spreading.

However it appears that Plant and Food have yet again breached their Compliance Order and removed all the soil from the site down to the clay pan and, instead of autoclaving, have dumped it into an unknown secondary site in Lincoln. Furthermore, the exposed clay pan has had top soil spilt in places and a small brassica plant has sprung up.

?The removal of the soil could be seen to constitute a deliberate violation of the Compliance Orders,? says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

?However the breach is made worse by dumping soil at an undisclosed location and shows criminal negligence. It is tantamount to deliberately contaminating New Zealand ?s countryside,? said Mrs. Bleakley.

?How can New Zealand authorities allow a Crown Research Institute (CRI) to so blatantly contravene their controls? It betrays the trust the public have put in officials to protect the environment from GE contamination.?

GE Free NZ calls for an immediate investigation into how and why the regulatory process has been compromised, and why the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has overlooked this further breach in its duty of monitoring and auditing the post-trial site.

References: ERMA New Zealand Inquiry Report INQ08001 GM Brassica Field Test GMF06001