GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 23rd December 2005

Big Brands Promise Kiwis a GE-Free Christmas

Manufacturers of some of New Zealand’s best-loved brands say they are committed to using GE-free ingredients, and are going the extra mile to ensure their supplies are not contaminated.

We rang around some of the major companies listed in the Greenpeace GE Food Guide to check their policies. All Organically certified produce, and also major manufacturers like Goodman Fielder, Wattie’s, Signature Range, Griffins, Tegel, and Whittaker’s can guarantee the ingredients they use come from ‘identity preserved’ sources specifically chosen to keep products GE-Free.

Even companies like Kellogg’s whose US parent company are moving to using Genetically Engineered oils, say they will not use GE oil in Australia or New Zealand.

Kellogg’s Australia have confirmed that they do not use any oils in their breakfast cereals and only use hydrogenated palm, canola and soybean oils in their snack foods. All these oils are sourced from Australian farmers who have guaranteed that their farming practices are GE Free.

However visitors to the US will need to be extra-vigilant as the same quality standards are not in place there. Kellogg’s US say they will be changing all their snack foods to incorporate a GE derived oil (Vistive) which has a very low linolenic Acid (Omega 3) oil of less than 3%.

New Zealand and Australian consumers should also be wary of being deceived into trusting companies that are not avoiding GE ingredients. Some favourite Kiwi food brands – even if produced locally- may use hidden GE oils. An application for use of low-linoleic oil* was approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand in 2001, despite concerns that such oils should not be allowed anywhere until the complex effects on people's health have been fully researched.

“People will need to look in the Greenpeace Food Guide, and check with manufactures if they do not want to be conned into buying products made with GE derivatives,” says Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

"This New Year we would like to see more of the New Zealand taxpayers money going into Organic, IPM and non-GE seed agriculture, and to support the development of clinical diagnostic GEO tests," she says.

GE Free NZ would like to congratulate everyone who has worked in and with government, farmers and industry to keep our environment and food free of Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEO's).

Have a Happy GE Free Christmas.

Claire Bleakley 06 308 9842

Monsanto's low linoleic GE soybeans

*The safety outline presented to FSANZ for oil derived from Monsanto's low linoleic GE soybeans says "The most significant changes to the soybeans are to the oleic and linolenic acid content - the oleic acid content has been increased by 23.1% to 83.8% and the linolenic acid content reduced from 55.4% to 2.2%. One minor unexpected change did occur to the fatty acid profile resulting in the production of trace amounts of a fatty acid not normally found in non-GM soybeans". (FSANZ Application A387, p3).

Linolenic Acid is known as an Omega 3 essential fatty acid. It is a polyunsaturated fat that cannot be manufactured in the body and is therefore essential in the daily diet. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) serve as the precursors for prostoglandins and other hormones, associated with blood clotting and inflammation. They are also the building blocks of the body’s cell membranes and involved in the formation of cell walls, making them supple and flexible, improving circulation, and having protective effects in relation to cancer.

But low Linolenic acid Omega-3 in the diet can cause deficiencies that are linked to a range of diseases and medical problems. These include: decreased memory and mental abilities, tingling sensation of the nerves, poor vision, increased tendency to form blood clots, diminished immune function, increased triglycerides and "bad" cholesterol (LDL) levels, impaired membrane function, hypertension, irregular heart beat, learning disorders, menopausal discomfort, and growth retardation in infants, children, and pregnant women, reduced growth rates, infertility, skin scaliness, kidney abnormalities, abnormal liver function, decreased immune function, decreased myocardial contractility and decreased prostaglandin production.

Rich natural sources of linolenic acid are cold water fish, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seed and walnuts. GE Free soybeans and canola oil are also good sources.

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