22/12/2009

Food Authorities Playing Russian Roulette

 

The refusal of the trans-Tasman Food Standards Australia New Zealand Authority (FSANZ) to reassess the risks of three GE corn varieties found to cause harm is the result of bias and personal agendas rather than sound science.

Following publication of data showing 3 GM maize varieties approved by FSANZ have been found to have toxic effects in animal tests, FSANZ prefer to shoot the messenger, rather than look at the science (1).

FSANZ are required to use scientific reasoning to approve GM foods, but by ignoring scientific evidence they are playing a dangerous game of Russion Roulette, with public health as the stakes.

In safety assessment and approval of GM foods FSANZ have relied on industry assessment of its own data from animal feeding studies. When independent scientists obtained the very same industry raw data, they have found ill health effects that could seriously affect consumers.

These animal feeding studies pointed to serious abnormalities in terms of the animals' growth, organ and immune development. In some case the damage was more significant in male than female animals and is dose-related. Many of these ill effects had been obscured in previous assessments of the data by the convoluted process of using genetically modified isogenic lines as comparator controls.

"For the last 12 years FSANZ decisions have ignored submitters concerns, now they are ignoring the science. They have shown their true colours and have been found wanting. It is unjustifiable to accept Monsanto's take on the data for making approvals, but reject independent analysis of the same data as 'anti GE' and refuse to look into the concerns," says Claire Bleakley of GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

"Why use animals tests at all if the results are going to be ignored? This refusal to look at the new interpretation of industry data shows that the revolving door of regulator and industry is alive and well, and creating bias in FSANZ decision making."

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06-3089842

REFERENCES

No need to investigate GM corn says regulator
Updated at 4:44pm on 20 December 2009

A food safety regulator says it will not launch an investigation into claims some genetically modified maize is unsafe.

The group, GE-Free New Zealand, says a study he in the International Journal of Biological Sciences shows three genetically modified maize varieties are toxic and can cause the proper story.



They have been approved by the Food Safety Authority as components of certain products.

These types of maize are not grown in New Zealand , because of the ban on GE crops, but may be found in some types of corn-fed chicken and other imported products. tell

GE-Free spokesperson Jon Carapiet says that if a ban isn't imposed, the authority will basically be "ignoring clear-sighted evidence of risk and transferring it to the public and the consumer - and the consumer doesn't know, because it's not clearly labelled, and most people would seek to avoid it if it was".

Lydia Buchtmann from Food Standards Australia New Zealand says the maize has all been approved, is safe and does not warrant a review.

She says the study was done by an academic who is a known anti-GM campaigner.

Ms Buchtmann says the study's author has published two other studies which were found to be seriously flawed.

Copyright 2009 Radio New Zealand



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