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.
While the varieties pose no threat to human health or the environment, they are however GM by definition, and now that they have been identified as such, it is an offence to knowingly grow them.
Following investigations into the origin of these varieties, MPI and overseas authorities, accept that growers were completely unaware that they include GM material. The response action worked to have growers to voluntarily recall and surrender stock was undertaken.
MPI have also reviewed the import health standard for all petunias and require GMO testing prior to import.
Update - 3 September 2017
Update - 20 July 2017
NZPPI is working with MPI and growers on two fronts.
If you import petunia seed, tissue or nursery stock and you’re not on our GM Petunia mailing list, please contact John Liddle, email@example.com.
8 June 2017
MPI have sought NZPPI's assistance in undertaking a recall of several genetically modified (GM) petunias, and identifying others that may be in New Zealand. See letter from MPI.
While MPI have identified just three varieties known to be in New Zealand, overseas authorities have identified others - see variety list. If you grow any of these, please also contact MPI, and copy me in so we can build a database of varieties and growers.
If you grow petunias under licence, you can also help by seeking data from your supplier on the genetic status of all petunia varieties – both seed and vegetative varieties.
MPI, and overseas authorities, accept that growers were completely unaware that these varieties include GM material and no action other than asking growers to voluntarily recall and surrender stock is planned. These varieties however are GM by definition, and now that they have been identified as such, it is an offence to knowingly grow them.
We implore you to act promptly please, noting that the recall is "voluntary" to the extent that industry is being given the opportunity to act decisively and avoid a formal biosecurity response direction.
MPI have issued a media statement this morning. It will no doubt raise concerns in the community, and we are preparing industry communications and key messages. MPI are also revising the import health standard for petunias. All Petunia species imported as plants or seeds will require a GM certificate stating they are GM free before being allowed to enter New Zealand. NZPPI will be working on this too with MPI, suppliers and members.
NZPPI is partnering with MPI in this work, and as your industry body, we’re here to help you too. Please contact John Liddle - 021 370 168, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you need more information or help.