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

Food Authorities 'OK' Rat Trial Data on GM corn

GE Free NZ in food and environment is rejecting claims by the NZFSA that it has reviewed the data from Monsanto's rat trials on GM corn and is able to dismiss the results as insignificant. Reports that Monsanto had refused to release the data appear to have been wrong as the NZFSA now claim they have reviewed and dismissed the experiments.

If this is true it is vital that the data be published to allow independent scientists to scrutinise it, and restore public confidence in the process. "We don't believe the NZFSA has taken the issue seriously as they seem more interested in dismissing the data than releasing it for independent scientists to make input. We have no confidence that the NZFSA have been rigorous in applying the precautionary principle or instigating follow-up research," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

Even more concerning is that the NZFSA are treating requests for a recall of the product with disdain, admitting they have no idea where the products may be in the food chain. This is an urgent wake-up call for food safety authorities and the public. Our regulatory system is incapable of monitoring or tracking novel foods like this GM corn, and equally incapable of withdrawing a products when necessary. If this was a pharmaceutical- contamination from GM corn, or if MON 863 or any other wrongly approved crop is found to be harmful, what would NZFSA do?

Unfortunately, we can see from this test-case; the answer is apparently 'Nothing'. This case shows there is a need for a overhaul of the monitoring and recall-system for foods. Government and the NZFSA are on notice that failure to improve their system represents a significant threat to public health. Action is needed before it is too late.

Contact Claire Bleakley Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370

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Hi Claire
Let me see if I have this straight.

You want us to recall all products produced in New Zealand over the last 10 months that MIGHT contain modified starch ingredients, refined oil, fructose, glucose syrups, including all cereals, baking products, corn chips, dessert mixes or canned food. Because they MIGHT contain a product that was approved by FSANZ in October 2003 but that is the subject of a newspaper article in France.
Despite the fact that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) overrode the CGB's concerns about the same issue in this article and approved MON863 for use in the European Union in April this year, saying the reported abnormalities were not significant. And despite the fact that FSANZ has also studied the report and considers
their approval appropriate?

Do you think this would be a proportionate response??

Sandra Daly
Director Communications and Business Services
New Zealand Food Safety Authority
P O Box 2835
South Tower 86 Jervois Quay
Phone 04 4632503 Fax 04 4632501

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