29/07/2007

FSANZ Clearance of GE Corn Plays Russian Roulette with Our Health.

 


FSANZ has reviewed independent scientific warnings re. MON 863 and rejected
them, instead concluding the corn is safe for entry into the food chain.

GE Free NZ (in food and environment) believes this potentially disastrous
decision signals that it is time for New Zealand to establish its own
laboratories and set protocols for testing novel foods.

Investment in such a system is long overdue. It is increasingly urgent as
more GM foods like MON 863 and high-lysine corn (designed for animal-feed)
are authorised to enter the human food-chain. The current system is also
unable to test the risks of novel foods or "nutraceuticals" which are the
focus of millions of dollars of investment announced this week, including
joint ventures with global food giant Nestle and Crown Research Institutes.

In the absence of New Zealand having any independent testing system there
are serious doubts around the decision by FSANZ to give MON 863 a clean bill
of health.

FSANZ initially approved the GM corn without the requisite feeding trials
and instead relied on Monsanto's assurance of safety. Monsanto had applied
for approval for MON 863 despite an independent analysis of a 13 week rat
feeding study showing statistical differences in the endocrine system,
livers and kidneys of the rats after eating the GE corn.

Following public outcry FSANZ asked Monsanto for a copy of the feeding trial
data. The data was sent with a full claim for commercial confidentiality
(CCI), and the FSANZ website states that since Monsanto did not agree to the
CCI claim, the raw data was immediately returned to Monsanto in line with
the conditions on which it was supplied.

What does this mean?
“We are concerned as it appears that FSANZ did not even assess the data
properly before returning it to Monsanto,” says Claire Bleakley, from GE
Free NZ (in food and environment)."Instead FSANZ seem to have again trusted
Monsanto's claims that an analysis by independent scientists was
statistically flawed. “

“In correspondence from Monsanto, released under Australia's Freedom of
Information Act, Monsanto say that if other statistical methods are used, no
significant differences are found in animals eating the GE corn."

The original raw data from the feeding trials were released after Greenpeace
took high court action in Europe. Crii-Gen, an independent scientific
laboratory re-evaluated the data. The finding were published this March and
found that there were 40 significant differences between MON 863 and the
control corn. Most significantly the high doses (33%) caused renal and
hepatic changes. FSANZ’s own evaluation also noted “the incidence of liver
necrosis and stomach glandular dilation in MON 863-fed male rats, which was
higher than that observed in both the parental and historical control
groups”. Dr Seralini and his scientists recommended that further dietary
studies be conducted after evaluating this data.

No such research has been done, neither is there significant prospect of the
required testing being undertaken.

The approval of MON 863 GE corn into the New Zealand food chain has left our
Government, manufacturers and retailers open to massive court action if
these adverse effects prove to be more than a statistical error and are
dangerous to humans.

"What is FSANZ thinking?” says Claire Bleakley. “Our food is the most basic
of needs and the safety of the food supply is of paramount importance, not
to be compromised to suit trade agendas or the interests of companies like
Monsanto. Yet FSANZ appear to have deliberately sided with Monsanto and
hidden their heads in the sand.”

"By doing this FSANZ are leaving the people they are meant to serve exposed
to potentially chronic disease. It is criminal to repeatedly ignore the
need to set up proper testing. FSANZ are even now ignoring leading New
Zealand scientists and refusing to test yet another GM product, the latest
high-lysine corn.

"We cannot allow consumers of food to meet the same fate as residents who
suffered dioxin poisoning or soldiers exposed to nuclear tests, and let
FSANZ simply wait to see who gets sick before they take notice," says Claire
Bleakley.

It is time that a New Zealand laboratory is set up to independently trial
these foods and end our reliance on industry-supplied data open to
manipulation by vested interests.
Investing in such research infrastructure now would be the best way to spend
government money and ensure public health safety in the future as our food
is further subjected to meddling by the biotechnology industry.

ENDS:
Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842 / mob: 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 0210 507681

References:
New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize
Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity by G.E. Séralini, D. Cellier & J.
Spiroux de Vendômois, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 52, 596–602 (2007).
http://www.springerlink.com/content/02648wu132m07804/fulltext.html

CRIIGEN answers to European Food Safety Authority critique of MON 863 study,
2007.
FSANZ reaffirms its risk assessment of genetically modified corn MON 863
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au:80/newsroom/factsheets/factsheets2007/update
fsanzreaffirms3622.cfm
Review of 13-Week Rat Feeding Study with MON863 Corn
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/Assessment%20MON863%20feeding%20st
udy.pdf

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