GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 1st  August 2004

GE Free NZ calls for tests on maize to determine if cause of contamination is Phytoremediation

GE Free NZ in food and environment would like to get assurances that the levels of lead in corn flour have not come for contamination from plants used for phytoremediation purposes.

Phytoremediation is one of the new uses for transgenic plants. Transgenic plants are inserted with a gene (yeast protein YCF1) that can absorb high levels toxic waste from land containing cadmium or lead. As is known plants like corn are wind pollinated and the pollen can spread for miles. As a result there is a possibility that pollen from plants containing a toxic lead absorbing gene may have cross pollinated with food corn.

It is important for the consumers to be reassured that plants genetically modified to clean up heavy metal sites have not swapped their genes with food grade plants resulting in contaminated human food supplies or that harvested grain containing heavy metals has not mistakenly been mixed with the food supply. Testing for GM contamination needs to be done as soon as possible to allay all such concerns.

It is time the Food Safety Authority FSA ordered a full scale recall of all corn flour products and tested them for the source of the contamination. “The FSA should not be trying to protect business interests but those whose health is at stake. The lack of industry testing for products and the inability for consumers to get any information as to what brands are contaminated is contravening all consumer rights,” said Claire Bleakley of GE Free New Zealand. “Little wonder there is no public confidence in the Food Safety Authority, since it appears unable to demonstrate it has consumer concerns at heart.

Contact: Claire Bleakley-06 308 9842

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Engineering tolerance and accumulation of lead and cadmium in transgenic plants Nature Biotechnology 21, 914 - 919 (01 Aug 2003) Research

*Down on the pharm "GM crop mishaps unite friends and foes " 18 November 02
In July, New Scientist reported warnings from Rissler and other GM watchdogs that the US government rules for growing "pharmed" crops were far too lax (Print edition, 6 July, p 4).

A number of recent incidences of contamination of the food supply with GE pharmaceuticals or transgenic animals that should never have gone to market have occurred in both the US and Canada.

“Alarm as GM pig vaccine taints US crops” (The Guardian, 24 December 2002),2763,865030,00.html

“Three dangerous little pigs” (Globe and Mail, Canada, 20 February 2004)
Union of Concerned Scientists special feature “Pharm and industrial crops- the next wave of agricultural biotechnology”

"On the other hand, if genes find their way from pharm crops into food crops, we could wind up with drug-laced corn flakes or taco shells." “Potentially disastrous effects may come from undetected harmful substances in GM foods” (PSRAST)
Statements by scientists on the dangers of genetically engineered food

Are you concerned that pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals may end up in your corn flakes? Shrouded in secrecy, biotech companies are genetically engineering crops to produce pharmaceutical drugs in numerous undisclosed test plots around the US.

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