17/09/2012

New Zealand Scientist Leads Scrutiny of Novel Food Risks

 

A New Zealand scientist at the forefront of understanding problems that might be associated with genetically engineered (GE) foods is raising concerns over increased disease links to consuming a new construct in GE wheat, a World first.

Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Associate Professor Judy Carman, biochemist at Flinders University have released an expert report evaluating the risks associated with the use of RNA molecules in Australia CSIRO's genetically engineered wheat.

This report identifies serious liver problems potentially linked to the type of genetic engineering used. The GE wheat contains a genetic code that is almost identical to the human equivalent, which is not killed in cooking or digestion. This has the potential to transfer into the human cell thereby affecting the health of those who eat it *.

Serious health effects include those which would not necessarily be seen in animal studies. Moreover the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) does not require feeding studies for GE applications to test for adverse health effects.

"The trans-Tasman Food Standards approval agency, over which New Zealand has no jurisdiction, does not require any safety tests for GE applications," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ.

"There are no GE diagnostic tests developed for health professionals to use, so many adverse effects will go misdiagnosed and it will be for future generations to prove".

Some manufacturers in the food industry have started to use wheat to replace GE soy and GE corn ingredients in their foods, specifically in response to consumer health concerns around GE foods.

"Wheat is a staple food in the Western world. Many families are “Wheat- bix” families and may be exposed to wheat products in everyday meals from sandwiches to pasta," say's Claire Bleakley.

"If GE wheat is introduced, it will further limit choice of safe natural ingredients for food manufacturers and their customers."

New Zealand and Australia do not need GE wheat. It is a direct threat to the environment, health of animal and to humans, as this latest scientific report warns.

Coexistence is impossible and GE contamination of other crops has proven to be inevitable. New Zealand grows GE Free wheat exceptionally well and it is our sovereign right to continue to do so, especially given the health risks that are now being identified for GE wheat."

References:

[1] Evaluation of risks from creation of novel RNA molecules in genetically engineered wheat plants and recommendations for risk assessment. An expert opinion of Professor Jack A. Heinemann, 28 August 2012


*CSIRO's technology as used in the wheat, suppressed an enzyme which was similar to the human enzyme that produces glycogen. Humans eating the wheat could experience a decline of glycogen production in their bodies, leading to liver failure'.(links to Scientists reports http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14181-gm-wheat-health-dangers-full-details )

[2] Scientists Warn On CSIRO GM Wheat Threat, Safe Food Foundation, 11.9. 2012.http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2012/s3587639.htm

ENDS:

Jon Carapiet 0210507681

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 0273486731

back to directory