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EU bans Illegal Corn As NZ Authorities Approve It

3 May 2005

EU bans Illegal Corn As NZ Authorities Approve It

The Food Standards Authority is wrong to be giving the OK to illegal and unapproved Bt10 maize accidentally shipped from the US for almost four years.

It is concerning that Food Standards Australia New Zealand have given the illegal maize the OK rather than following best-practice standards applied in Europe aimed at preserving the integrity of the system and public confidence.

In stark contrast to the EU which has banned shipments of contaminated products, NZ authorities have decided no action needs to be taken other than to approve the corn "after the fact" because it is similar to another GE product. NZ authorities also deem the presence of anti-biotic resistance genes to be immaterial, despite independent medical and scientific advice to the contrary.

"Our authorities are letting the country down by not taking this seriously," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

" The issue is one of maintaining standards and ensuring a rigorous system that can cope with accidents, mistakes or even sabotage. The EU appears to have a system that works. Unfortunately we do not."

It is unacceptable for Authorities to ignore serious issues raised by the public and independent scientists, and greet them with a wall of silence.

How can both the EU and Australia / NZ claim to have world-class regulatory systems and yet have such different responses to the same international contamination incident?

More important than the health impact of Bt10 is that the regulatory system is clearly flawed and subject to potential catastrophic breakdown. NZ authorities have tried to sweep this issue under the carpet and want to ignore the larger implications for the system.

The New Zealand Public is asking officials to deliver on past promises and have in place a system that can track and recall illegal contaminated foods, and to hold those companies involved accountable.

NZ Authorities have refused to respond to queries about which such protective measures are in place or need to be put in place. They have refused to fine the company involved (as the US has done) or to test product for the illegal corn (as the EU and Asian countries have done).

Astonishingly, our authorities do not even seem to be checking if illegal product is still being shipped, or which products on New Zealand supermarket shelves have been contaminated.

ENDS

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