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Government caves in to Monsanto

Government caves in to Monsanto

The Government has failed New Zealanders by approving a potentially hazardous GM food ingredient, setting a dangerous precedent that will let other untested animals feed products enter the country's food chain, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"The decision to approve a strain of GE corn for human and animal consumption in defiance of strong scientific evidence that it poses a health risk is an unacceptable breach of food safety standards," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"When High-Lysine Corn LY038 is cooked the combination of high levels of lysine with sugars already present in the corn will produce compounds called Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs) which are directly implicated in causing Alzheimer's Disease, diabetes, and various forms of heart disease.

"Earlier this year, Food Safety Minister Annette King signalled the desirability of further research, voiced concerns about the validity of the testing process carried out by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and concluded: "I'm not comfortable with saying : just tick it off." Regardless, this product has now been given Ministerial approval, without any further testing being done.

"The Government has ignored the concerns raised by internationally renowned authority Dr Jack Heinemann whose detailed submission first identified the serious shortcomings in the testing procedures used. Presumably it was these shortcomings that induced Ms King in her own press release (February 21, 2007) to criticise the "inconsistencies" in the testing standards "... in particular, the choice of comparator. This process may, as a result, need revisiting in order to ensure consumer confidence is maintained."

"Proper testing has not taken place. The tests to validate this approval decision were done on rats and chickens and used raw corn - not the cooked corn that poses health risks to humans. Moreover, the comparison was done against another GM corn, and not against a more closely related non-GM variety that World Health Organisation standards require, and which are called for even within FSANZ's own testing standards.

"High-Lysine Corn LY038, produced by the seed giant Monsanto, was designed as animal feed. Monsanto acknowledges it would be impossible to prevent this GM corn variant from entering the human food chain, where it will be unidentifiable and unlabeled. Unfortunately, the slipshod process by which it has been approved will become a precedent to allow further animal feeds into our food chain.

"The timeline and Q&A's released by the Government today are designed to hide the fact that Minister King expressed concern and a desire for further testing in August, after FSANZ had completed its assessment and approved the corn. There has been no further scientific work done since then which could lead to today's decision.

"I did not expect much of FSANZ, which has rubber stamped every GM food product put before it. It did appear though, as if the Government would act responsibly, take the course of action freely open to it and opt out of the approval process for this product for New Zealand. The fact that it has chosen to cave in so abjectly to Monsanto on a key issue of food security is an insult to the world-leading scientists who raised substantive issues in their submissions, and is a tragedy for New Zealand consumers," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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