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Minister Urged to Intervene on Illegal GE Corn

6 April 2005

Minister Urged to Intervene on Illegal GE Corn

It is time that the Minister of Health intervened on the Bt 10 issue and took seriously her responsibilities to protect New Zealand's food chain from contamination by unapproved un-tested corn. FSANZ is not moving fast enough on the isssue of illegal GE corn entering the foodchain as a result of illegal growing in the US American of Bt10 which has only recently been disclosed by the company:Syngenta.

It is probable the product has come from the US to Australasia and GE Free NZ in food and environment is calling on the FSANZ to recognise its legal obligations to act to protect the health and safety of the New Zealand population.

This Bt 10 corn has never been through an internationally-agreed Food Safety testing process before entry into the human food chain.

"If FSANZ does not follow through with a recall of the illegal Syngenta Bt10 corn event it shows that their regulatory approach and consultation processes are a dangerous sham" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment.

"The FSANZ mission statement says that it is their responsibility to protect the health and safety of the New Zealand and Australian public by properly managing dangerous foods in the food chain. It is imperative that they act to find and remove this GE corn as soon as possible".

Bt10 corn contains a different cassette make up to its conterpart Bt11 that it has been compared with. It also contains an ampicillin resistant gene which is threatening to those who take penicillin derived antibiotics. The diseases that ampicillin treats like ear Staploccoccal and salmonella infections are already showing level of penicillin resistance and Bt10 corn could hasten the problem.

"It is frighteningly irresponsible for an Authority to blatantly disregard the seriousness of this breach" she says " We are heading into a winter and if the food we eat makes treatment of any disease more difficult serious complications could occur."

As this corn has not been approved for consumption it is incumbent on the Authority to withdraw all products that contain this construct and warn consumers, especially people like pregnant women, infants, and those with suppressed immunity identified as more vulnerable to negative effects. Bt10 has not been approved by any FSA in the world and there is insufficient information for the local Authority to make any decision in hindsight to supperficially 'fix' the problem.

This event also indicates that it is imperative to reform the regulatory system and if GE foods are approved after testing- to fully label all foods and ingredients containing any GM ingredients regardless of the levels or quantity in the foods. Labels should contain accurate source data of how the product was made and grown . It would also make tracing easier to allow emergency recalls to be effective.

ENDS

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