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Ag-Chemicals Implicated in Rise of Disease

GE Free New Zealand

In Food And Environment Inc.

PO Box 13402, Wellington, NZ

Ag-Chemicals Implicated in Rise of Disease

A significant rise in Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the white blood cells (lymphocytes) responsible for immunity, has been identified in agricultural and non-agricultural workers exposed to pesticides.

The findings have implications for 82 genetically engineered foods approved into the New Zealand food chain. All these are tolerant to one or more herbicides named in the latest study by Schinasi and Leon (2014) as being linked to cancers. [1]

Yet officials have acknowledged that these foods are not assessed by FSANZ for pesticide effects, and that only the novel DNA is considered in safety assessments.

The most controversial and recent GE foods approved by the Minister in 2013 are GE soy and corn that have been sprayed with a cocktail of herbicides including 2,4-D, a phenoxy herbicide that is highly toxic.

Exposure to the phenoxy chemicals is positively associated with the development of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The authors say that their results indicate a need to investigate further.

"GE crops are increasing the amount of toxic chemicals used on farms and these chemicals are ending up in food," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

"All the GE plants that have been approved for the food chain contain synthetic genes that make the plant able to be sprayed with high levels of herbicides. This is increasing the pesticide load that people and animals are exposed to."

It has also been officially acknowledged by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) that there is not the money to regularly monitor the food chain to see if the food complies with the labelling laws. By law a product that contains any GE ingredient over 1% has to be labelled.

“This study shows that there has been a significant rise in the last 20 years of people who are not agricultural workers developing non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Is this being exacerbated by an increase in highly sprayed GE foods that are being ingested?”

This concern is gaining international attention. Mi Zhen-yu, Vice President of the Academy of Military Science of China, Committee member of the 9th National People's Political Consultancy Committee in China has also written about the rise in many of the illnesses that could be linked to the high levels of GE soy in the diet. [2]. France parliament has just announced that it has banned the growing of all strains of genetically engineered corn, citing the high levels of pesticides used on the GE plants pose a risk to health and the environment.

It is time that the Minister for Food Safety looked into this with her new Food Safety advisors and address the food safety concerns of export markets and consumers at home who she is duty bound to protect.


[1] Schinasi L. & Leon M. (2014) Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Occupational Exposure to Agricultural Pesticide Chemical Groups and Active Ingredients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(4), 4449-4527; doi:10.3390/ijerph110404449

[2] We must face the harm caused by imported GM soy – Chinese military scientist

[3] French ban on GMO maize cultivation gets final approval.


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