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Alarm Bells Ring Over GE Potato Decision

Alarm Bells Ring Over GE Potato Decision by Aussie Dominated Food Regulatory Body
GE-Free Northland is appalled but not surprised by the latest deeply flawed decision by Food Standards Australia NZ, in which the agency approved an American application for six lines of genetically modified potatoes to be sold in NZ and Australia.[1]

FSANZ, an Australia-dominated trans-Tasman regulatory body [2], has a track record of approving controversial genetically engineered food ingredients for importation into New Zealand.

"By being part of FSANZ, New Zealand has relinquished its food sovereignty. The new government must prioritize withdrawing from FSANZ and tightening up the GE labelling laws in NZ," said Martin Robinson, spokesman for GE-Free Northland.
"The controversial imported processed GE potatoes will not be labelled, thus undermining consumer "right to know" and traceability," said Robinson.

New Zealand's GE labelling laws are inadequate—exemptions to labelling include imported GE oils, sweeteners, food additives, and animal feed.

The NZ Minister for Food Safety has let down NZ consumers yet again by failing to require a thorough public safety evaluation.

Substantive submissions by GE-Free NZ, the Soil & Health Association Aotearoa NZ, and Physicians & Scientists for Global Responsibility Charitable Trust (NZ) highlighted many independent studies and feeding trials that show harm from eating GE foods, which FSANZ has ignored. [3]

The decision states, “No public health and safety concerns have been identified in relation to food derived from the potatoes developed by the Applicant.” That false statement is worse than misleading and breaches a “duty of care” to the consumer. FSANZ openly acknowledges it does not require feeding trials or genomics testing.

"GE-Free Northland demands full and comprehensive labelling, to ensure that consumers who chose to avoid GE food can do so," said Robinson.
FSANZ dismissed submitters' legitimate concerns and rejected all requests for feeding trials. New Zealand submitters have no standing to challenge the agency's decision.

NZ fast food outlets and restaurants will need to be vigilant to avoid purchasing imported GE potatoes.

GE-Free Northland asks supermarket chains such as Foodstuffs and Progressive to ensure that their in-house brands remain GE free.

GE-Free Northland also urges all fast food outlets to ban the use of imported GE potatoes, because such products would put their customers at risk. There is no evidence that these GE potatoes are safe to eat and considerable evidence that they are not safe.

We support comprehensive GE labelling of all imported foodstuffs to protect "consumer right to know" and traceability. We are aware that highly qualified scientists, epidemiologists, and other food safety experts continue to argue as to whether GE food is safe to eat on a very high technical level.

New Zealand is a GE-free food producer with no commercial GE crops or transgenic / cloned animals. All fresh fruit and vegetables, and all certified organic products are GE-free. Most products with simple ingredients that have no commercial GMO version overseas will also be GE-free. With this latest decision FSANZ has increased the risk to consumers, and Kiwis must now be even more vigilant when purchasing takeaways, processed food, or beverages.

ENDS

References:
[1] A1139 Approval Decision
www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Documents/A1139_Approval%20Report.pdf

[2] The board of FSANZ
www.foodstandards.gov.au/about/board/Pages/default.aspx
[3] GE FREE NZ/ Soil & Health Association Aotearoa NZ joint submission to A1139
www.gefree.org.nz/assets/A1139-GM-Potato-Application-Joint-Submission-GE-Free-NZ-and-Soil-Health.pdf
[4] Progressive Enterprises- "Signature Range"
Foodstuffs- "Pams"
see also:
www.gefreepolicy.com
http://web.gefreenorthland.org.nz/press-releases/ge-free-northland/00206-alarm-bells-ring-over-ge-spud-decision-by-aussie-dominated-fo

Food Standards Australia NZ
www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/Agreement_Between-Member_States.pdf

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