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ANZFA assurances over GE-Food meaningless

20 June 2000
ANZFA assurances over GE-Food meaningless

Assurances from the Australia New Zealand Food Authority that five genetically engineered foods on our shelves are safe are meaningless given that no long-term safety testing has been conducted on them, said Green Party health spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

The five foods in question - corn, cotton, canola and soybean - have not undergone any safety testing that is required for genetically engineered phamaceuticals or other substances added to food such as food additives or pesticides, she said.

"All ANZFA has done is assess the data provided to it by the companies, like Monsanto, who have engineered these foods and consulted with some scientists and other regulatory agencies," said Ms Kedgley.

"ANZFA acknowledges that it has not undertaken any independent safety testing of these foods in order to reach their conclusion that they are safe. It has not even required that the companies applying to bring these foods into the marketplace undertake long or short term safety testing, or human clinical trials," she said.

Ms Kedgley said it was farcical that genetically engineered staple foods, which are in hundreds of different food products, had their safety assessed without traditional safety testing.

Some doctors warn that genetically engineered foods could result in new allergens, new toxins, superbugs and other unexpected health hazards in foods that were previously considered safe, said Ms Kedgley.

"The British Medical Association warns that genetically engineered foods could have a cumulative, invisible, irreversable effect on the food chain. In the absence of human clinical safety trials and long-term testing, only time will tell whether these foods are safe or not."

Ms Kedgley said it was very disappointing that on the first day of New Zealand's Royal Commission of Inquiry into genetic engineering it was reported that the Australian Prime Minister had written to Helen Clark urging her to compromise on New Zealand's commitment to labelling of all genetically engineered foods.

"Just days after a national survey showed that 70 per cent of New Zealanders are suspicious of genetically engineered foods and do not want to eat them, our government is being pressured to water down our labelling provisions to the point where they would be meaningless," said Ms Kedgley.

"ANZFA is looking increasingly out of step with the wishes of New Zealanders."

Sue Kedgley MP: 04 470 6728, 025 270 9088

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