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Europe rejects the GE corn that NZ accepts

Europe rejects the GE corn that NZ accepts

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is questioning the honesty of a ministerial response to a Parliamentary question, following news that MON863 GE corn has been rejected by a European Union regulatory committee .

The Green Party had raised concerns over the safety of the corn, in light of a suppressed study by Monsanto that showed rats fed with it developed several abnormalities. Neither the government nor Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) had been aware of the report at the time Monsanto's application was approved for use here.

"In Parliament earlier this month, Jim Sutton, on behalf of the Food Safety minister, defended the decision by FSANZ to approve MON863, on the basis that the European Food Safety Authority had approved the corn as safe for human consumption," said Green Party Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"While technically correct, Mr Sutton's response was at best misleading. He implied that MON863 had passed the EU's test and been approved to enter the market. What he omitted to say was that very serious questions remain in Europe over the safety of this food and that it had a number of hurdles to pass before final approval.

"In fact, MON863 has just fallen at the first hurdle. The European Union committee of member states that monitors GE applications (the Committee on the Release of Genetically Modified Organisms into the Environment) has declined to approve its release by 14 votes to four."

Ms Fitzsimons said that the European committee referred to the effects if the corn on rats and had applied the precautionary principle in its decision to withhold approval.

However, Ms Fitzsimons warned that the MON863 controversy was not dead in Europe.

“The European Environment ministers will now consider the Monsanto application, and if they also decline it an un-elected committee of officials has the power to then over-rule them,” said Ms Fitzsimons. “This is how GE foods have been approved in Europe so far.

"Even if MON863 is approved for consumption, the shoppers of Europe will get the final say. Unlike New Zealand, Europe's strict GE labelling regime means consumers get the final choice on whether to buy it or not.

"Given that most supermarket chains across Europe are refusing to stock GE foods, it's easy to see why Monsanto's focussing its efforts on countries with weak regulatory regimes like New Zealand. What is more concerning, is the support that some politicians appear to be lending it.”

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