13/07/2006

Removal of GE Free (NZ) from forum is totally unacceptable

 

GE Free (NZ) members have expressed dismay after their removal by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) from its Consumer Forum. The NZFSA wrote to the Organisation saying it does not have a mandate for GE foods. (The NZFSA Consumer Forum was set up to discuss consumer concerns. Elected representatives are part of a board that includes industry and other groups of which the Minister for Food Safety Annette King is responsible).

GE foods have provoked the strongest public reaction of all foods in the last ten years. Consumers view the GE food issue as a critical part in the Food Safety debate, given that these foods cause adverse health conditions in experimental animals and that effects on humans are completely untested.

"For the last four years GE Free (NZ) has played an active and positive role in all the NZFSA consumer forum programmes and dialogues. So, the action to remove GE Free (NZ) is totally unexpected and unacceptable" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment "The reasons NZFSA given have been erroneous and have sought to mislead the many concerned letter writers."

At the last meeting GE Free (NZ) submitted a research proposal outlining tests for glyphosate residues in GE soy and corn. This proposal will be voted on at the meeting the group has been removed from. With no representative to talk to the research proposal, there is a likelihood it could be removed from the list.

The NZFSA has a policy mandate to implement and enforce decisions around food safety. Its two key functions are to protect and promote public health and safety and facilitate market access for food related products. Their strategic outcomes are; healthy New Zealanders; enhanced economic growth, and safe, freer rules based trade. It must provide commercial certainty and enable industry to meet its responsibilities by involving industry taking into account its interests and concerns.

It is also NZFSA policy to develop safety criteria around composition and levels of in foods. They also are required to monitor and enforce labelling of products known to contain GE foods on behalf of New Zealanders, as set out in their memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australia. "It is highly concerning and it sends a message to other forum groups that if they do not toe the line they will be removed” said Ms Bleakley "They cannot remove, on a whim, such an important consumer representative sector. The NZFSA has clearly let down its consumers and must address this issue immediately be re-instating the Organisation".
ENDS: Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842 Mb: 027 348 6731

References:
Letter received from NZFSA and an OIA request.
NZFSA Profiles www.nzfsa.govt.nz/about-us/profile/index.htm?print

Consumer ground breaking glyphosate research
http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/food-safety-topics/chemicals-in-food/residues-in-food/consumer-research/index.htm
Survey of glyphosate, and its degradation product AMPA, residues in wheat
Glyphosate in targeted foods (potatoes)

back to directory