10/08/2007

FSANZ Approval of GM animal food into human food chain regardless of safety doubts

 

The Trans Tasman Food Authority, Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ) admit they need more information to assess GE foods but have gone ahead to approve LY038 in Australia but not New Zealand. Monsanto High Lysine (LY038) Corn has seen the application degraded from a human to animal one over four years “in case it enters the human food chain”, even though it has a high potential to produce toxic by-products when cooked (1).

In light of scientific concerns that the product needs to be tested "cooked" New Zealand Minister Annette King has sought more information before it can enter the New Zealand food chain.

“We are cautiously optimistic on Ms Kings stand, New Zealand needs to be able to act independently in situations such as this to protect New Zealanders from the dangers posed by GM foods”.

The approval was made despite FSANZ having insufficient information on the product, and against warnings from New Zealand scientists that LY038 could present health risks when cooked.

But FSANZ has disclosed that it will be amending the FSANZ Act to address the shortcomings that meant vital information was not required to be provided by applicants.

The admission casts a shadow over previous approvals of GE foods that have been widely opposed by consumers and concerned scientists and medical professionals.

FSANZ say “Applications received by FSANZ often do not contain sufficient information to enable them to be properly assessed. We will be able to reject an application if it does not meet the information requirements set out in the Guidelines”(2)

“This is an unbelievable cop out, after seven years of receiving applications FSANZ has acknowledged that it has not sought independent safety data on GM foods, because it was not required to. This admission must trigger alarm bells,” said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in Food and Environment “This is highly concerning especially as all GM foods applied for have been given approval to enter the food chain. FSANZ reliance on industry data for evidence of safety has always been highly questionable."

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a trans Tasman Authority involving the Governments of both New Zealand and Australia and sets food safety standards for both countries. It has approved the entry of High Lysine Corn (LY038) into the food chain in Australia. (3)

But Industry assessment of data has differed significantly to independent studies on GM food safety. There has been mounting evidence of danger that has been documented in both industry and independent tests in GE animals feeding studies.

In previous applciations Monsanto’ own data on MON 863 corn, which FSANZ approved for entry in the Food Chain in 2004, was independently assessed by CRIIGEN scientists and shown to be linked to impaired liver and kidney function as well as high sugar levels in the blood. (4)

“If these results occurred in humans the results signal a high probability for liver, kidney and pancreas breakdown leading to possible diabetes, renal failure and liver disease,” said Ms Bleakley. “The highly contentious approval of an animal food that causes harm shows that FSANZ has failed in its duty to protect the people of Australia/New Zealand and won’t listen to independent Scientists expertise on this matter. We call on FSANZ to re-assess all GM foods previously approved under the new protocol”.

ENDS:

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

References:

(1) Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (2006), Submission on the DAR for APPLICATION A549 FOOD DERIVED FROM HIGH-LYSINE CORN LY038: Submitted to Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ): Tel: +64 3 364 2500, Email: jack.heinemann@canterbury.ac.nz

(2) 2007 Amendments to the FSANZ Act including New Assessment Procedures http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/standardsdevelopment/newamendmentstothefsanzact/index.cfm
(3) FSANZ Gazette 92 - Food derived from high lysine corn line LY038 Unless the protein content has been removed as part of a refining process, the label on or attached to a package of a food derived from high lysine corn line LY038 must include a statement to the effect that the food has been genetically modified to contain increased levels of lysine.

(4) Seralini G-E., Cellier D., de Vendomois JS (2007) New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. DOI: 10.1007/s00244-006-0149-5

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