26/03/2013

Scientists Warn on GE Food Safety Protocol

 

Scientists who have been warning about risks from untested GE foods have proposed a new testing protocol to protect human health. Intervention is urgently needed to stop food authorities pushing on with approvals and to adopt a new protocol of proper research.

Food Standards ANZ (FSANZ) has just notified the public that they have received an application to assess a GE soy (A1081) that is resistant to glufosinate and atrazine type herbicides, for entry into the food chain. [1]

Despite appeals to stop, the Minister is also about to sign off on a genetically modified soybean (A1073) that has not met the minimal standards for scientific testing expected by consumers.

An article in the Environment International Journal [2] [3] reviewing safety regulations for GM crops and novel dsRNA technology is a wake up call to regulators to immediately apply the necessary expertise for safety testing.

Co-authored by Professor Heinemann of the Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI) the article details a scientific assessment protocol, warning "our current understanding of dsRNA in GM plants is in its infancy and we are still trying to understand how they may work and therefore how they may affect humans, animals and the environment".

A significant amount of imported GE food in New Zealand escapes labeling because it is refined into oils, sugar syrups and flour or sold at point of preparation. However the types of GE soy and corn that are discussed in the published article have been approved by the FSANZ. There is evidence that cooking food may not be enough to prevent unwanted effects.

There is also concern about GE Soy bean meal that makes up a large proportion of animals feed imports, especially chicken feed. Animals and humans that have eaten GE foods have had herbicide metabolites and transgenic genes detected in their blood and organs. [4]

Reports on sudden animal deaths in Northland [5] and New Plymouth [6] and the admission that GE animal feed has been imported in large amounts over the last year raises the question of a possible link between the deaths and animal feed.

Another report found illness and deaths in China after animals were fed GE corn (XY335) [7] including serious reproductive disorders. The unexplained deaths of thousands of pigs [8] that have been pulled out of the Huangpu River also raises the possibility of a connection to GE contamination in feed that deserves to be considered by investigators.

“The Minister and FSANZ must take these incidents seriously and listen to the scientific warnings. The food chain faces the threat of chemicals that are banned in other countries and that are dangerous. 2,4-D and Atrazine type sprays will become a lethal part of breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"The GE foods should be considered in the same light as chemical warfare, it's just happening undercover in the food chain.”

The scientific warning for a new safety protocol for novel GE foods is a reason to immediate halt further GE food applications.

References:

[1] A1081 – Food derived from Herbicide-tolerant Soybean Event SYHT0H2 http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/foodstandards/applications/a1081foodderivedfrom5825.cfm

[2] Heinemann JA., Zanon Agapito-Tenfen S. and Carman JA. (2013) A comparative evaluation of the regulation of GM crops or products containing dsRNA and suggested improvements to risk assessments Environment International 55:43–55

[3] Lax GM rules may bite back- scientists PAUL GORMAN, Stuff http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/8467207/Lax-GM-rules-may-bite-back-scientists

[4] Aris A, Leblanc S. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec , Canada . Reprod Toxicol (2011), doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670

[5] Calf deaths puzzling | Northern Advocate http://www.northernadvocate.co.nz/news/calf-deaths-puzzling/1658691/

[6] 'Disbelief' as 120 cows drop dead http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/disbelief-120-cows-drop-dead-5265162

[7] GMO problems in China -part 2. http://gmwatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14716:gmo-problems-in-china-part-2

[8] China river's dead pig toll passes 13,000 but officials say water quality is 'normal' http://behindthewall.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/18/17357810-china-rivers-dead-pig-toll-passes-13000-but-officials-say-water-quality-is-normal?lite

ENDS:

Claire Bleakley 06 3089842 / 027 3486731

Jon Carapiet 0210507681


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