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Food Code Change to Allow New GM Corn Unwarranted

Change in Food Code to Allow New GM Corn Unwarranted

The New Zealand Institute of Gene Ecology (NZIGE) is urging the food standards agency to exercise caution before approving Monsanto’s GM corn application.

NZIGE has recommended that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) not approve Monsanto’s genetically modified high-lysine corn on the basis of the information currently provided. FSANZ, the agency responsible for protecting the safety and integrity of food sold in New Zealand, is currently considering whether Monsanto’s LY038 corn should be permitted into the food supply.

“We’ve examined the application and its supporting materials carefully, and our conclusion is that as it currently stands the application does not justify changing the Food Code to permit this GM corn into the human food supply,” said NZIGE Director and University of Canterbury Associate Professor Jack Heinemann. “LY038 corn raises a number of safety issues that remain unresolved.”

In its submission to FSANZ, the NZIGE points out that the studies submitted in support of the application do not consistently conform to what the authors, who include biosafety researchers working at the Institute and the Norwegian Institute of Gene Ecology, consider current standards in biosafety and risk assessment science. Tests on the potential for the new variety of corn to produce new proteins that could cause allergies in people were not performed according to the World Health Organisation published protocols, for example. The NZIGE made 20 major recommendations, mostly calling for additional information or indicating deficiencies in the studies that were released for public review, and calling for one feeding study to be ignored completely by FSANZ because of its flaws.

The NZIGE also advises FSANZ to disregard Monsanto’s declared intention to use LY038 corn only as animal feed. It points out that if the Food Code were to be amended as Monsanto requests, it would allow any volume of LY038 corn in human food in New Zealand. “FSANZ must require this corn to be safe as a routine part of the food supply, not just as an occasional ‘inadvertent’ ingredient,” said Heinemann.

The submission notes deficiencies contained in the cost/benefit analysis provided by FSANZ and in the regulatory framework. “The FSANZ analysis currently neglects or understates costs to those trying to avoid this GM corn or monitor its presence in the food supply,” said Dr. Joanna Goven, Deputy Director of NZIGE. “Our work on this application also suggests that, when it comes to animal feed, New Zealand’s biosafety net may need some repairs.”

Submissions are due at FSANZ by 9 February 2005.

For the NZIGE’s full submission, please go to:

For further information, contact: Dr. Joanna Goven (joanna.goven@canterbury.ac.nz)

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