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Govt. Must Guarantee No 'Animal Only' Biotech Corn

26 October 2000

Govt. Must Guarantee No 'Animal Only' Biotech Corn In NZ

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley today called on the Government to begin random testing of food products containing corn from the USA in order to guarantee kiwi consumers that a genetically engineered corn, approved only for animal feed, has not already penetrated the New Zealand food supply.

In the United States some food manufacturers have withdrawn their products after it was found they contained a genetically engineered corn which was refused approval for human consumption by the US government in 1998 and is only in use as an animal feed. The cereal giant Kellog's is one of many food producers who have had to suspend production.

The European Union has set up a 24 hour desk to monitor the spread of this corn and a Japanese consumer group has reported finding the contaminated corn in a baking mix. Japan, which is the biggest foreign buyer of US corn, has called for the US to halt all exports of foods which contain the corn.

Sue Kedgley said it was crucial that the corn, which it is feared could cause allergic reactions and digestion problems in some humans, did not enter New Zealand and said that as the scandal grew around the world the Government needed to guarantee New Zealand consumers that it was not entering this country.

"At present our Government does no active monitoring of genetically engineered products in our food supply to ensure there are no illegal GE ingredients, such as this StarLink corn," she said.

"Unless the Government sets up an immediate programme to randomly monitor genetically engineered ingredients in our food supply it cannot guarantee consumers that their food is safe.

"During the past three weeks most American grocery stores have been pulling products suspected of being contaminated with this corn off their shelves. This corn may persist in the food supply for years," said Ms Kedgley.

"This is exactly the kind of problem the Green Party have warned the Government about. This illegal corn appears to have spread widely and consumers around the world seem to have next to no protection."

Ms Kedgley said the Government must immediately move to assure New Zealand consumers that they had nothing to fear and that this corn was not in New Zealand.

She said New Zealand may have to consider following Japan's lead and asking the US to halt any exports to New Zealand of foods suspected of containing this corn.

Ends


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