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Food Authorities Challenged for Failure to Test GE

28 November

Food Authorities Challenged for Failure to Test GE Food

New research showing harm caused by GE food is prompting a challenge to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) from consumer groups demanding the Authority makes study of genetically engineered food a priority.

At a recent consumer forum a presentation on the contamination of the food supply by untested GE Bt10 included revelations that the NZFSA do not see GE as a priority issue and no action would be taken to look closer at the hazards around GE foods.

"In light of new evidence of harm from GE foods this appears to be a very dangerous attitude and consumers should be very concerned about the Food Safety Authority's views" says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment. "For three years the consumer forum has made representation over the mounting evidence of harm from GE trials on animals and humans now identified by independent scientists and biotech companies themselves. Yet the food authorities in both New Zealand and Australia are ignoring the data".

A recent study conducted by CSIRO in Australia shows that the introduction of genetic material from a bean variety into a GM pea led to the creation of a novel protein which caused inflammation of the lung tissue of mice. So serious was the damage that the research was halted, and stocks of the GM pea have been destroyed. The developers have now made a commitment that the "rogue" variety will never be marketed.

A 2005 laboratory study by Dr M.Myhre and colleagues on the 35S CaMV promoter gene indicated that there was a risk in relation to food and feed derived from transgenic plants, provided that plant DNA fragments are taken up in the alimentary tracts. The implications from this study are that the 35S CaMV promoter could switch on genes which would not normally be activated, potentially including dormant viruses and possibly oncogenes.

"As indicated by these in-vitro studies, there are clear signs that GE DNA fragments may survive and be able to drive processes in the digestive system," says Claire Bleakley. "Further investigation is urgently needed. So why aren't the NZFSA and FSANZ protecting consumers by ensuring rigourous testing, labelling and tracking regimes?"

Early results by Russian scientist Irina Ermakova have shown that an astounding 55% of the offspring of rats fed on GM soya died within three weeks of birth, compared with only 9% in the control group.

Dr Manuela Malatesta and colleagues in the Universities of Pavia and Urbino in Italy found that mice fed GM soya experienced a slowdown in cellular metabolism and modifications to the liver and pancreas.

The disasterous effects of GE L-Tryptophan between 1986-1989 killing scores of people and permanently maiming an estimated 10,000, was the earliest warning that genetically engineered products posed serious safety issues. Still the NZFSA and FSANZ seem willing to ignore the possibility that these foods are a public health time-bomb.

It has been twelve years now and there are still no diagnositc tools available for medical practitioners, and no way of tracing the possibility of illness or allergic reactions from GE foods. Yet there has been a steady rise in illnesses caused by unknown viruses and undiagnosed stomach and skin problems.Is there a correlation? It is highly irresponsible and unethical for Authorities to turn a blind eyes to the data and fail to investigate the impact of GE foods on people unwittingly consuming them.

Given inadequate regimes to test and control GE foods The Australian Insurance Council has warned that in coming years grocery manufacturers may be held responsible for harm resulting from manufacturers using 'approved' GE foods when evidence is clear that the regulatory system is failing.


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