GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 20th  March 2004

Praise for Supermarkets' GE-free chicken.

GE Free NZ in food and environment is welcoming the decision by Progressive Enterprise's 'Signature Range' to now source chickens from a supplier with a clear GE Free policy.

The change has occurred in the last two weeks. Signature Range has previously sourced its chickens from the Inghams factories that feed their chickens Harvey farm mixed grain containing GE corn and soy. Last year Greenpeace testing identified that the chicken feed contained up to 85% GE grain. But many consumers were left in the dark about this fact because of a gap in labelling regulations.

Animals fed GE grains do not have to be labelled as such, despite research showing gene-transfer in the gut of animals that has raised new concerns about the impact of GE feed on animal and consumer health.

Inghams General Manager Mike Rosen has stated that "on recent audit all of the ingredients used by Inghams are non-GE according to New Zealand Australian Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) labelling standards and guidelines". This claim contradicts the Greenpeace test-results. The international Food Safety Authority considers that as long as levels are below the 1% threshold they are defined as non-GE. 

At the same time Commerce Commission rulings say labelling of such products as GE-free is actually illegal- again leaving consumers in the dark unless they can check a company's policy directly.

"The recent published studies calling into safety GE foods shows the use of these products is a gamble that consumers should not have to be forced to take," says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"Animals have shown transgenic fragments in their blood, liver and spleen from the ingestion of GE foods. It is time that serious long term studies into safety were undertaken but the GE companies will not do this because they do not see it as their responsibility. Safety testing of GE foods falls into the abyss of assumptions based on "substantial equivalence".

GE Free NZ in food and environment would like to congratulate food outlets like Woolworths and Foodtown who have listened to their customers and worked to remove GE ingredients from their foods.

Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

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