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"No GM petunias currently under production in New Zealand"In May 2017, northern hemisphere growers and authorities became aware that many petunias characterized by the orange colour of the flowers had been produced by means of genetic engineering. Additionally, this GM material had found its way into other varieties.
Several of these GM varieties have been grown in New Zealand, and in June MPI instigated a biosecurity incursion response.
MPI's incursion response has completed its 2017 activity and are satisfied that no GM varieties are currently under production in New Zealand. It also concluded those that were sold to gardeners in prior years pose no threat to the environment or food chain, and even the perennial varieties are short lived in New Zealand conditions. They will keep a watching brief on varietal testing developments overseas and follow up any newly identified GM varieties against the NZ variety list built with producers. MPI have been complementary of the support and cooperation provided by both NZPPI and producers.
Consultation on proposed changes to the Petunia Import Health Standard has recently completed. All imports must be accompanied by a GMO test certificate from an MPI approved laboratory, of which there are just four - located in Melbourne, New Orleans, Nates (Frances) and Alnarp (Sweden).
NZPPI worked with MPI on the pre-consultation draft. Efforts to have MPI accept "whole of life" certification for a harvested seed batch were not successful; MPI were not convinced that pollen contamination (from potentially GM varieties) could be completely ruled out. Up to fifty seed lots can however be bulked for a single test, and imports that arrive without a certificate can be held in bond while testing is undertaken.
Vegetative varieties are more straight forward. While they still need a GMO certificate, this can be based upon a one-time single test for the variety at point of origin – example, a breeder’s nuclear stock.
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Publication date: 9/6/2017
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