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Beware the light oil in your Breakfast

August 2006

Beware the light oil in your Breakfast.

Monsanto's newest GE-derived oil may be heading for our breakast tables, but its unique properties means it should come with a health warning.

Unfortunately, consumers will be left in the dark about "Vistive" appearing in their cereal, despite serious scientific concerns about the impact it could have on human health.

"Vistive" low linolenic acid (Omega 3) soy oil has been developed off the back of an already-existing and non-GE low linolenic acid soy bean which Monsanto has crossed with its genetically modified Ready Round Up (RR) soy line (MON-04032-6).

But because "Vistive" was bred through cross pollination between a GE plant containing the RR (C4-esps) gene and the naturaly "low Lin" soy plant there are concerns that it will avoid being properly safety tested.

"Monsanto is yet again being disingenious when they claim what they have done is natural. This original soy bean has been in the commons for many years" said Claire Bleakley of GE Free (NZ) in Food and Environment. "In effect they have deliberately contaminated the natural low linolenic soy seed stock with their RR patent."

There is concern that manufacturers may be able to use nutritionally deficient and GE soy oils in their products without declaring the fact. The "Vistive" GE oil represents yet another contamination of the food chain. Under food regulations most GE-derived oils do not have to be labelled by manufacturers.

"Such use of oils which have had essential nutritional properties altered could lead to deficiency syndromes and malnutrition. Scientists are warning that they have the potential to become a major health problem contributing to future diseases," says Claire Bleakley.

"We urge food companies against taking such a risk and doing their customers a disservice. Consumers chose foods high in Omega oils for their health benefits. If this oil is not fully labeled then consumers will be misled over the health implications.as nutritionally deficient food lowers our natural defence systems and we become highly susceptible to health breakdown".

Linolenic Acid is known as an Omega 3 essential fatty acid. It is a polyunsaturated fat that cannot be manufactured in the body and is therefore essential in the daily diet.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) serve as the precursors for prostoglandins and other hormones, associated with blood clotting and inflammation. They are also the building blocks of the body's cell membranes and involved in the formation of cell walls, making them supple and flexible, improving circulation, and having protective effects in relation to cancer.

Low Linolenic acid (Omega-3) in the diet can cause deficiencies that are linked to a range of diseases and medical problems. These include: decreased memory and mental abilities, tingling sensation of the nerves, poor vision, increased tendency to form blood clots, diminished immune function, increased triglycerides and "bad" cholesterol (LDL) levels, impaired membrane function, hypertension, irregular heart beat, learning disorders, menopausal discomfort, and growth retardation in infants, children, and pregnant women, reduced growth rates, infertility, skin scaliness, kidney abnormalities, abnormal liver function, decreased immune function, decreased myocardial contractility and decreased prostaglandin production. Rich sources of linolenic acid are cold water fish, safflower oil, flaxseed, wheat germ , pumpkin and walnuts.

Consumers must remain on their guard against "health" claims that could be seriously misleading. Any food oils that claim in advertising or on-pack to have health giving properties of "Low Lin" must be checked for possible use of untested GE oils which may actually put consumers at further risk than the health-issues they claim to be addressing.

The Food Standards Authorities must make sure that oils derived from GE lines go through the proper safety assessments regardless of their how they were bred.

ENDS

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