08/02/2007

Concerns that Authority's Bias is compromising safety

 

Concerns that Authority's Bias is Compromising Food Safety

The recommendation from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to approve a genetically engineered High-Lysine Corn LY038 for animal and human use, is a warning sign that the Authority is inappropriately influenced by trade-related issues and the interests of overseas businesses like Monsanto's.

This decision comes just weeks after New Zealand officials declared they want to adopt the same loose policies for cloned animal products that have been proposed in the US by the FDA. Like their US counterparts the NZFSA intends no testing, monitoring or labelling of products from clones because differences are expected to be minimal and products "substantially equivalent."

But such a policy on cloned food ignores the fact that small differences can have significant impacts.

"Substantial equivalence is closer to bureaucratic spin than sound science", says Jon Carapiet from GE free NZ in food and environment.

"On this basis animals with mad cow disease could be deemed fine to eat because they only have a small difference in the shape of one protein: prions."

Though the FSANZ admit LY038 is different, once again there seems to be unacceptable and detrimental pressure from business to open up New Zealand's and Australia's food system to inadequately tested (and largely unwanted) products.

LY038 is produced by seed giant Monsanto, and is genetically modified to contain levels of the amino acid lysine at substantially higher levels than found in other corn. The application for approval for human food is "just in case" it gets mixed in from animal feed by accident, as has already happened in the past.

FSANZ seem to have ignored warnings that when foods with high levels of lysine are cooked in combination with sugars, compounds called AGEs are produced which have been implicated in causing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.

In a submision to FSANZ, The Centre for Research in Biosafety at Canterbury University identified different ways that animal feed could either inadvertently or deliberately end up being consumed by humans, and warned them of the possible effects.

GE Free NZ in food and environment support calls by the Green Party for a Ministerial veto of the decision, and want new protocols on food testing to be developed and introduced before any further approvals are made for 'novel foods' .

The Centre for Research in Biosafety reports in its submission that the testing procedure for this corn deviated from the recommendations of international food safety bodies, including the World Health Organisation.

"This is unacceptable. We need the best standards, not the ones that best suit business or overseas investors," says Mr Carapiet.

Consumers are being exposed to unwanted and unnecessary risks because officials meant to protect them have a wider agenda than providing genuine choice and safety.The bias to meeting the interests of industry and agri-business risks compromising the integrity off the food chain.

ENDS
Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

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