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Scientists Back Groups On Test For Illegal Corn

Scientists Back Community Groups On Test For Illegal Corn

GE Free NZ in food and environment are calling for FSANZ to identify and label products that contain GE and remove all those contaminated by Bt10 corn from supermarket shelves after scienists have given backing to our concerns.

Failure by FSANZ to take action is raising international concern and could prompt boycotts of all US corn products.

"Scientists from New Zealand Institute of Gene Ecology have reviewed and analysed data on Bt10 & 11 provided to FSANZ by Syngenta. These data clearly point to considerable differences between the Bt11 and Bt10 corn", says Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment

"If action to test and withdraw the illegal corn is not taken it may be best to avoid buying any corn products that do not have a guarantee of safety by being labeled GE Free."

The clear differences raise concerns over the environmental and health safety of both these GE corn constructs, including use of a marker for resistance to Ampicillin: an important antibiotic used to treat Meningococcal disease.

Dr Mae-Wan Ho and Professor Joe Cummins have raised concerns over instability in the ampicillin resistance marker gene given only partial information was provided to the FSANZ and because the antibiotic resistance marker gene could have ended up in another part of the cell's genetic material.

"The Food Standards Australia/ New Zealand (FSANZ) and New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) should take very seriously the inaccuracy and flawed interpretation of the Bt10 &11 data they have been presented with by Syngenta" said Claire Bleakley.

"It appears that FSANZ have accepted sloppy science on the GE reference material they have been presented and have not been diligent in seeking independent advice."

Independent scientific reports outline concerns over the health effects on people eating such food because of such changes. Further if this hybrid Bt10/11 corn entered the seed line in New Zealand it could cause silencing of vital genes, higher levels of protein expression or production of new toxins.

Without the necessary action by FSANZ people may be driven to completely avoid all US-derived corn which could negatively impact many grocery manufacturers. The EU has already banned gluten imports from the US until testing was developed to identify Bt 10 contamination.

The testing is now available and used in Europe. The responsible action is for FSANZ to also now use the test, but they refuse to.

ENDS


Reference

Bt10 Detection Method Unacceptable Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins

Macilwain C. US launches probe into sales of unapproved transgenic corn, Nature 2005, 434, 424.

Agbios Bt11 approvals http://www.agbios.com/

US Food and Drug Administration Biotechnology Consultation Agency Response Letter BNF No.000017 1996 http://www.cfscan.fda.gov/

US Food and Drug Administration Biotechnology Consultation Note on the File BNF No.000017 1996 http://www.cfscan.fda.gov/

Payne J. USDA/APHIS Petition 95-195-01 for Determination of Nonregulated Status for Bt11 Corn 1996.

Pilacinski W and Williams D. Petition for Determination of Nonreguloated Status for: Insect protection corn expressing the Cry1Ab gene from Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki 1995.

Hanten J and Meeusen R. Petition for Determination of Nonreguloated Status for: Insect protection corn expressing the Cry1Ab gene from Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki Appendix G Determination of levels of plant produced Bacillus thuringiensis kuastaki HD-1 proteins in transgenic maize. 1994.

Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. Advice on a notification for marketing of insect resistant and herbicide tolerant GM maize. http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/acre/ad vice/pdf/acre_advice35.pdf

"Stray seeds had antibiotic-resistance genes" Colin Macilwain, Nature online, 29 March 2005. http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050328/full/434548a.html

10. Australia-NewZealand Food Authority Draft Risk Analysis Report Application A386 Food derived from insect protected herbicide tolerant Bt11 corn 2000.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Decision Document DD96-12: determination of environment safety of Northrup King Seeds European corn borer resistant corn 1996.

Press Release: Following Syngenta-initiated investigation of unintended corn release, EPA and USDA conclude existing food safety clearance applies, no human health or environmental concerns, Washington, DC (USA), 21 March 2005, Syngenta web site. http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050321/full/nature03 570.html http://www.syngenta.com

DEFRA Press Release, 23 March 2005 (see below) http://www.gnn.gov.uk/Content/Detail.a sp?ReleaseID=153346&NewsAreaID=2

"DEFRA accused of key role in GM contamination cover-up", Press Notice from GM Free Cymru 30 March 2005

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