11/02/2007

Minister must use veto to maintain food safety

 

The Minister responsible for food safety In New Zealand- Annette King, must intervene to block a decision to approve human consumption of a new GE corn intended for animals.

GE Free NZ (in food and environment) is supportive of calls for a Ministerial veto made by the Green Party and the Sustainablity Council of New Zealand.

An analysis by the Sustainabilty Council shows that the decision by FSANZ exposes the public to untested but clearly significant risks. Worse, the basis of approval goes against internationally agreed standards for food safety testing. (See below)

If this decision is allowed it will signal a breakdown in the regulatory system and mean the Public can no longer have confidence in the safety of basic foods like corn.
ENDS
Jon Carapiet 0210507681

http://www.sustainabilitynz.org/news_item.asp?sID=170

New Attack on GM Food Safety Testing Standards

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Australian and New Zealand regulators are failing to resist an audacious bid by
GM plant developers to have them abandon a fundamental principle
of food safety testing.

The internationally accepted baseline for assessing the safety of a GM
food is to conduct studies that consistently compare it with the
closest non-GM relative. Such a 'comparator' is considered the standard because
of its long history of safe use as a food for people.

Last December, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recommended
approving a new GMO as safe for human consumption even though the
studies submitted in support of its safety compared it to another GMO
variety that has no history of safe use. The Minister for Food Safety,
Annette King, now has just 5 days left to respond to that
recommendation.

The GMO in question is Monsanto's 'high lysine' GM corn (called LY038),
an animal feed that is unlike any GM corn varieties commercialised to
date due to its substantially different nutritional profile.

There are compelling reasons to believe that LY038 could produce a
unique spectrum of food hazards because LY038 has extremely high
concentrations of the free amino acid lysine and its derivatives. When
cooked, these substances may form chemicals that are strongly
implicated
in causing certain diseases or their symptoms, including diabetes,
Alzheimer's and cancer.

Monsanto is seeking approval for this animal feed to be a legal human
food because of the difficulty of preventing it from entering the food
chain. FSANZ claims that if approved, only very small proportions of
the
new corn would become human food. However, even small quantities of
such
substances pose food safety risks and once approval is given, there is
no upper limit on the proportion of LY038 corn that can legally enter
the human food supply.

The deeper issue is the precedent-setting nature of any decision to
approve a new GMO on the basis of studies that do not consistently test
it against its conventional counterpart. If New Zealand and Australia
deem that abandoning the international standard is acceptable in this
case, they may lose the ability to use it to challenge future GM crops
that also rely on GMOs as test comparators.

Further, once one GM bio-industrial product is accepted as a food on
this basis, the stage is set for a raft of other products - including
plants producing industrial and medical substances - to be approved
using this lower safety standard. The novelty of this wave of new GMOs
should be driving adherence to the highest standards, rather than the
breach of a key safety principle.

The minister should use her statutory powers to require FSANZ to
undertake a review and seek to have Monsanto provide new safety studies
using the appropriate non-GM comparator (a corn variety called H99 that
is the closest non-GMO relative of LY038). This is consistent with the
approach set out in Codex guidelines and is a principle that should not
be abandoned.


For further background, click here.
http://www.sustainabilitynz.org/docs/Backgrounder_NewAttackonGMFoodSafet
yStandards.pdf

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