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ANZFA GM Foods booklet launched

19 June 2000


ANZFA GM Foods booklet launched

Health Minister Annette King today launched a booklet aimed at explaining the complex safety assessments carried out by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) on genetically modified foods.

She said GM Foods and the Consumer explains the scientific process required to check the safety of foods before they are permitted onto the market.

"ANZFA has developed an assessment process equal to the best in the world and
the booklet explains the steps taken to check that genetic modification has not increased the toxicity or allergenicity of a food or changed its nutritional value."

The safety standards had been established by the governments of Australia and New Zealand, with ANZFA responsible for carrying out safety assessments on behalf of the governments, she said.

GM foods are regulated by Standard A18 in the Australian Foods Standards Code. Standard A18 (food produced using gene technology) was endorsed by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council in July 1998, and became effective in May 1999.

All genetically modified foods must be assessed by ANZFA before they can legally be sold in the two countries.

Nrs King said the booklet was pitched at both the general reader and readers with a professional or special interest in GM food safety matters. "You don't need to be a scientist to read this booklet. The first part gives an overview of the safety assessment process in relatively simple terms. The second part goes into the process in more detail and provides a case study of how the process works.

"I believe this publication will go a long way to demystifying the work of ANZFA in determining the safety of GM foods."

Mrs King said she would use her position as a member of the ANZFSC to maintain a watching brief on all new foods to be assessed by ANZFA to ensure safety for the consumer was not compromised.

The safety of GM foods could not be assessed as a single class because safety concerns depend on the type of food and the nature of the genetic modification, she said.

GM foods were therefore assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the safety assessment process based on concepts and principles developed through international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the OECD.

Mrs King said that over the past year ANZFA had released two safety assessment reports, on Roundup Ready soy and insect-protected cotton. Each assessment was made available to the public for detailed examination and comment before a final report was sent to the ANZFSC for approval.

A further five reports have now been released for public comment, she said. Copies of the five safety assessment reports and the booklet would be posted on
the ANZFA website, www.anzfa.govt.nz


ENDS

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