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Cancer link in application for NZ GE wheat trial

Cancer link in new application for New Zealand GE wheat trial

Jim Anderton MP Wed Sep 15 1999

The most far-reaching penetration of genetically engineered foods in New Zealand could result from an application by Monsanto to be made public tomorrow.

The application to ERMA is 'to import and field test, in the Canterbury region, genetically modified Roundup Ready Wheat, as a part of an international development programme'. The application is for eleven lines of 'bread wheat'. It admits that 'wheat is the number one food grain consumed directly by humans'.

Alliance health and environment spokesperson Phillida Bunkle says the development of Roundup Ready Wheat is particularly alarming because of a study published in the latest March 1999 edition of the American Cancer Society's journal Cancer. It showed a link between Roundup and related pesticides and increases in cancer of white blood cells.

'To have Roundup in the product most frequently consumed by our population would be to expose us to a product which is now clearly linked to the third most rapidly increasing cancer.'

In Sweden, where the study was conducted, it has increased at a rate of 3.6% per year in men and 2.9% per year in women since 1958.

Non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer has increased by 80% in the last 80 years according to the American Cancer Society.

A previous study of human subjects published in 1998 had implicated Roundup in a rarer form of NHL.

The first study linking NHL to herbicides was published in 1981. This most recent study is the strongest evidence yet and follows several animal studies that have shown that Roundup can cause gene mutations and chromosomal aberrations.

Monsanto had already succeeded in applying for an increase in Roundup residues in food in Australia but had not had to apply for such an increase in New Zealand because the permitted levels were set so high.

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