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Minister must reject 'suicide chemical' GE soybean

'Put Food Safety First': Minister must reject 'suicide chemical' GE soybean.

Food safety must be the priority for New Zealand and the government should reject a proposal to allow yet more GE food sprayed with selective herbicides and chemicals.

On 19th December Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) made a recommendation to the Food Minister, Nikki Kaye, to approve Syngenta’s highly contentious new herbicide tolerant soybean (A1081) [1].

This Soyabean has two new GE genes to make it tolerant to the herbicides glufosinate ammonium (BUSTA) and Syngenta’s Mesotrione. Mesotrione is an extremely potent inhibitor of the enzyme 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD), blocking the biochemical pathway that converts essential amino acids, phenylalanine and tyrosine [1] and Vitamin E synthesis, with the potential to cause life threatening Type III tyrosinemia, anxiety and depression [2]

"The Minister must reject the proposal by FSANZ to allow this GE product," said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-free NZ in food and environment.

"The FSANZ report is irresponsible in its positive view of this next generation of GMOs. The Minister must not be lulled into believing the product has been proven safe when it has not."

The report's final conclusion says:

“No potential public health and safety concerns have been identified in the assessment of soybean line SYHT0H2. On the basis of the data provided in the present Application, and other available information, food derived from soybean line SYHT0H2 is considered to be as safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional soybean cultivars” [3]

Yet the Syngenta data sheet [4] outlines the dangers of Mesotrione and it's components previously identified in animal studies, and warns that inhalation or ingestion may cause central nervous system effects, severe weight loss, cataracts, embryonic feral defects, liver and kidney damage and blood abnormalities.

Nevertheless, the product is set to be given the rubber stamp of approval, unless the Minister takes action to halt it.

“This shows that yet again approvals of GE foods are not made with people in mind but rather are driven by the opinion of regulators that GE is completely safe. This basic belief continues to be used as an excuse for approvals that risk endangering consumers," said Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ.

“The recommendation shows how blatantly the assessors flaunt their position of power. There is no evaluation or tools to diagnose possible medical problems posed by this GE food, nor proof that this new Soybean line - which is not approved anywhere else in the world - is safe. Yet once again independent scientists and ordinary consumers are being told to shut up and eat it, because officials say it OK."

The Minister is being asked to heed the warnings of experts outside of the industry promoting GE foods. Jeffrey Smith who has just made a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand, met with the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) in Wellington before Christmas.

He was in alarmed to hear that FSANZ did not evaluate the chemicals in the food - but only the novel DNA.

“One of the incredibly weak arguments that I faced with my meeting with FSANZ was that we should not be worried about the toxicity of the herbicide residues in the crops that are GE. In the Roundup Ready crops the glyphosate can accumulate at higher levels in the food portion because that is the only live portion remaining. What’s a shame… actually tragic, is that there hasn’t been proper monitoring of the food composition in all cases. If it's a poison and its affecting people, then it matters," said Jeffrey Smith.

Though his meeting with FSANZ was disappointing Mr. Smith hailed New Zealand as a beacon of light saying, “there is no question that New Zealand enjoys a unique clean green healthy reputation around the World. NZ has an excellent opportunity to take advantage of an Organic and non-GMO status in ways that are better than other Countries."

"You also have a lot more to loose than other countries, so it's a no brainer!” Jeffery Smith said.

The Minister must call for long term feeding studies that show food safety, before she considers the product for entry into the food chain.

ENDS:

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