GE Free NZ in Food and Environment has applied to the Administrative Appeal Tribunal for a review of the decision by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to release into the food chain corn and soy genetically engineered to survive 2,4 D herbicides.
GE-Free New Zealand submitted to FSANZ asking that further risk studies be conducted into the foods safety, due to the lack of vital safety information provided in the applications. A proposal to the Ministerial Council asking for a review of the agency decision on grounds of public health and safety was also submitted.
“This appeal to the Tribunal has not been made lightly," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
The GE corn and soy have been engineered with bacterial gene cassettes that have never been in the human food chain before. These engineered genes allow the plant to tolerate high levels of the toxic herbicide sprays 2,4-D and quizalofop-p-ethyl. This approval went forward before the maximum residue levels (MRL) for safety of the herbicide applications had been determined. Normally, when maximum residue levels are set studies are conducted to see what toxic effects there are and what levels are deemed safe.
"The decision by officials to ignore the ‘gaps’ in evidence raised in submissions, and instead proceed without any risk guidelines or data on the safety of the new genes or chemicals effects, is highly concerning for consumers, as the foods are not going to be labelled to provide information for enabling choice” Mrs. Bleakley says.
Independent studies, undertaken after previous insecticide and herbicide resistant GE crops have been approved, are observing unforeseen health effects of the pesticides on animal and human health.
"The process does not fulfill the public's expectation of rigorous scientific assessment required of the Food Standards Authority," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.
"Where are the studies that would meet the international best-practice guidelines of Codex Alimentarius and considered necessary to test GMO food safety?"
"Health concerns raised in submissions must be considered in a measured and scientific way, yet no reply or validation of FSANZ's failure to do so has been made."
This intent of the legislation is clearly set out in the mission statement of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ):
To protect, in collaboration with others, the health and safety of people in Australia and New Zealand through the maintenance of a safe food supply.
FSANZ Values are:
To be impartial, open and accountable;
To use the best available sciences and evidence to guide decision-making;
To seek, respect and be responsive to the issues raised by others;
FSANZ Responsibilities are
Provide information to consumers to enable better consumer choice
Undertake dietary exposure modeling and scientific risk assessments
Provide risk assessment advice on imported food
Jon Carapiet 0210507681
Claire Bleakley 06 3089842/ 027 348 6731
Clair, É., et al. A glyphosate-based herbicide induces necrosis and apoptosis in mature rat testicular cells in vitro, and testosterone decrease at lower levels. Toxicol. in Vitro (2012), doi:10.1016/j.tiv.2011.12.009
Séralini et al.: Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements. Environmental Sciences Europe 2011 23:10.