GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 19th  September 2004

Demand for Recall of Suspect GM Corn Has Food Authorities Scrambling 

GE Free (NZ) is demanding a total national recall of the MON 863 (A484) corn by New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) following revelations that it was found to be harmful in secret animal-feeding trials. 

Evidence of significant adverse effects from transgenic corn MON 863 were revealed after it was found Monsanto deliberately held back the data when applying for the product to be approved for humans. And despite requests for the data by food authorities, it is understood Monsanto is continuing to refuse to publish the data.

"There are clear signals the corn places our children, the elderly and those who suffer poor immune-systems at risk, "says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment. " We are calling on authorities to recall the product and for proper independent scientific testing to be done".

But fundamental flaws in the system for monitoring and recalling the product could send Food Authorities into a
spin as they scramble to identify which products include the suspect corn. 

Despite official claims of rigorous approval and monitoring it is understood the GE corn has been allowed into products, which are unlabelled for GE, and subject to virtually no monitoring. Monsanto's original research into the adverse effects of the corn on animals was not presented to the authorising body Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ), casting a further shadow over the validity of the system for regulating novel foods.

"It is important that a recall of the food is begun immediately before any problems occur," says Mrs Bleakley. "By law FSANZ can only recall products in Australia, not here in New Zealand. It is up to the NZFSA to recall any food that has safety issues raised about it in New Zealand". MON 863 corn has been on the market in New Zealand for
the past 6 months. 

Foods that could contain the corn are most refined and prepared baking products (like modified starch ingredients; refined oil; high fructose and glucose syrups; cereals; baking products; corn chips; dessert mixes; canned foods.). Despite processing there is a clearly identified risk that novel proteins and by-products created as a result of the genetic modification could still cause harm.

The unpublished 90 day trial with rats is understood to have found: 
significant increases in white blood cells in males; 
reduced levels of immature red blood cells in females; 
significant increases in blood sugar in females; 
increased abnormalities such as degeneration or inflammation in the kidneys of male rats. 

The system for a food safety recall is now being tested in a real-life scenario. Unfortunately it seems to be a shambles, demanding urgent government action, and an end to the pretence that the system is under control, when it is clearly not.

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842
Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

References:

The French newspaper translation of Le Monde Monsanto's MY 863 corn: www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3308 article 1.

Food watchdog to recheck GM corn 03 September 2004: www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/print/0,1478,3022279a11,00.html

www.foodstandards.govt.au
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) coordinates food recalls in Australia only - but not in New Zealand. - it is the responsibility of NZFSA.
 

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