14/08/2010

Smartstax GE Corn Leaves Food Standards Authority in Disarray

 

The Food Standards Authority Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is in disarray, issuing conflicting reports that are vague and elusive, over the entry into the food chain of a new Monsanto/Dow Chemical pesticide filled GE corn variety, “Genuity Smartstax”. The new variety of corn is "stacked" with a combination of six different insecticidal and two herbicide tolerant genes has never been assessed. [1]

In Australia, FSANZ has given MADGE [2] an understanding that Smartstax has been approved even though the levels of the pesticides being produced in the corn are unknown, safety parameters for human ingestion have never been set, despite the scientific evidence that the combination of different gene insertions could produce further chemical or protein allergens.

"Replies to Freedom of Information Act requests by GE Free NZ to FSANZ reveal the Authority is unclear whether Smartstax has been regulated to enter the food chain, claiming they have no information," [3] says Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“But in further correspondence they claim it does not require assessment because approval had previously been given for the individual genetic modifications. Such an approach cannot be scientifically justified and presents a new level of threat to food safety.”

The International Codex Alimentarius rules [4] and the FSANZ standard 1.5.2 -1 (b) clearly states that any plant that has been genetically engineered or any plant that is derived or descended from a GE parent line even if conventionally bred has to be assessed for safety. [5]

“Smartstax has been engineered in the laboratory to contain the stacked genes with a toxic cocktail of traits that can have unique combined effects irrespective of reassurances that individual genes have been assessed for safety” said Mrs. Bleakley.

The Smartsatx corn is being grown on 4 million acres in the Corn Belt of America and the chemical cocktail of Bt insecticides kill caterpillars and release the Bt toxin to kill soil micro organisms below ground. The corn survives being sprayed with high levels of herbicides that are absorbed into the grain, and which cannot be washed off or boiled away.

American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called for a moratorium; implementation of long term safety testing with epidemiological research and methods to determining the effects of GE foods on human health. They asked Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible.
“…GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit.” [6]

“As FSANZ has not regulated the Smartstax corn it must not allow it any where near our food supply as it could severely harm consumer’s health. The corn produces high levels of toxic insecticides which have been linked to damage to internal organs, digestive complications, sterility, allergies and sudden deaths [7]," says Claire Bleakley. “There are still no diagnostic tools to detect if rising levels of allergies, digestive irritability and skin diseases could be attributable to the increasing levels of GE in our diet.”

“The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is mandated to evaluate any genetically engineered food and assess its safety. Its mission statement is to protect the health of the public, and they must immediately uphold public safety and stop the corn product from entering our food supply”.

References –
[1] Genuity Smartstax - http://www.genuity.com/Traits/Corn/Genuity-SmartStax.aspx
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3biM4OlC_QE&feature=related
[2] MADGE press release http://www.madge.org.au/Docs/MR-100715-Smartstax.pdf

[3] Responses to GE Free NZ requests from the FSANZ Acting General Counsel state:
“…FSANZ has previously approved all of the parental plant lines that have been used to conventionally breed Smartstax variety, under FSANZ‘s rules conventionally bred progeny of approved GE lines do not require specific approval”.

[4] GUIDELINE FOR THE CONDUCT OF FOOD SAFETY ASSESSMENT OF FOODS DERIVED FROM RECOMBINANT-DNA PLANT; CAC/GL 45-2003;
Paragraph 14. [..]. Unintended effects in recombinant-DNA plants may also arise through the insertion of DNA sequences and/or they may arise through subsequent conventional breeding of the recombinant-DNA plant. Safety assessment should include data and information to reduce the possibility that a food derived from a recombinant-DNA plant would have an unexpected, adverse effect on human health.

[5] FSANZ standard 1.5.2 under the definition 1(b), 1(b)(ii) 1(b)(i) http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/Standard_1_5_2_GM_v116.pdf

[6] Position paper on Genetically Modified Foods. American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), 2009, http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html

[7] de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726. http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

ENDS:
Jon Carapiet - 021 0507681
Claire Bleakley - 06 3089842 / 027 3486731

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