Parents may want to avoid Nestle and Heinz infant formula made in Australia, and to stock up on organic New Zealand-made products, after the companies announced they will accept GM contaminants in their products.(1)
The shock announcement by the manufacturers through the Infant Nutrition Council (INC) puts them at loggerheads with consumers seeking safe, organic and GM-free foods. It also signals the risk of novel gene constructs overwhelming the integrity of segregation and tracking systems vital for food safety.
The decision to accept GM contamination rather than maintain a GM-Free policy and best-practice to purge GM-derived ingredients, also puts Nestle and Heinz in line for future lawsuits, just as companies faced with the unexpected long-term harm from asbestos.(2)
Some approved GM ingredients are known to cause harm in animal feeding experiments (3). GE-derived ingredients could have lifelong effects in infants as signalled in recent research on epigenetic effects by Professor Peter Gluckman from The University of Auckland, and his colleagues at University of Southampton.(4)
Dr Gluckman's work shows the complex cascade of genetic effects impacted by diet, including long-term effects of the maternal diet even from the moment of conception.The epigenetic effects of genetically modified contaminants in the diet of neonatals is completely unknown.
The announcement by Nestle and Heinz say it is impractical to supply GM-free products from Australia but it does not say:
- if Heinz will cease to produce organic baby food products
- if the companies will monitor and withdraw products when illegal GM ingredients are found in the product or when a GM ingredient is found to be harmful
- if they will provide advice for consumers to diagnose potential effects from GM
- if they have insurance against unintended harm resulting from their decision to accept GM-derived ingredients
"This is an alarming decision. These companies are choosing not to keep GM contaminants out of baby formula because it's too hard," says Jon Carapiet from GE-Free NZ In food and environment.
"Not maintaining segregation in the supply chain for baby food is totally unacceptable."
Officially-approved ingredients like maize MON 863 are entering the food supply yet have been shown to cause harm in feeding studies. It is beholden on the manufacturers to stop it from entering their products, especially in nutrition for infants.
According to the report by Food News, New Zealand's Fonterra is sitting on the fence about whether it will aim to keep GM contamination out of any infant nutrition formula it produces.
"Fonterra has to commit to providing a secure and safe supply of GM-free ingredients for infant formula that kiwi parents can trust," says Jon Carapiet. "Many millions of parents around the world will also want those products."
It would be an act of deliberate self-sabotage if Fonterra refuses to maximise the integrity of its supply chain and protect the reputation of New Zealand-made products as clean, green, GM-free, natural and 100% safe.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
1) Food producers operating in Australia admit GM free is impossible
Transnational food corporations headed by Nestlť, Heinz and New Zealand-based Fonterra have announced through their lobby organisation, the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), that it is impossible to produce, in Australia, infant formula that is free of genetically modified ingredients