NZ Food Authorities Confirm GE Rice Contamination
The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) has admitted to the release of low levels of unapproved GE Liberty Link Rice 601 (LL601).
But though the product has not been tested on animals or humans NZFSA refuses to recall it, or follow Europe and Japan in banning contaminated imports.
This rice is unapproved, untested and unlabelled. The NZ Food Safety Authority is unable to trace the rice unless it immediately starts testing but it is refusing to do this.
LL601 contaminated the food chain through imports of US-produced long grain rice. In the UK supermarkets have been asked to take action to remove contaminated rice from their shelves.
"This rice was withdrawn from commercialisation due to unknown reasons, calling into question whether the feeding trials caused some concern for safety,or the line shows genetic instability" said Claire Bleakley of GE free (NZ) in Food and environment.
Bayer CropScience submitted an application on August 22nd 2006 for approval of the rice though it had already contaminated the food chain internationally.
LL601 has been engineered to resist Glufosinate-ammonium herbicide (BUSTA), inhibiting glutamine synthase leading to high levels of ammonia in the plant cells which in turn leads to their death. It also contains the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) which studies have found to persist through to the small intestine in humans and into animal organs.
It is unknown how this might affect consumers, but the possibility of severe allergies or immune responses are yet to be properly determined.
It is highly irresponsible for NZFSA, which is charged with protecting and removing any unapproved ingredient that might be a health threat, should be unconcerned with the contamination based on approval of other GE products.
There has been continuing erosion of the integrity of our food supply by illegal GE contamination from Bt10 and now LL601. NZFSA are not protecting consumers as they are charged to do.
GE Free NZ believe NZFSA should follow Japan's lead and test all imports of at-risk rice for this illegal contamination and ensure it is not left on sale.
NZFSA Personal Correspondance
4. We are currently gathering further
information but indications
are that there are only very low levels of imports of product into New
Zealand that are potentially affected. We are continuing discussions
on this with our international counterparts to ascertain more details.
5. NZ food law requires the
labelling of GE content and any person
selling food needs to meet the requirements of FSC 5.1.2.
TRADE: GE Rice Scare Shows Vulnerability of Food Supply
Inter Press Service News Agency, August 25 2006