Quote:GE Free NZ met with the Food Safety Minister, Nikki Kaye, and her policy advisers to request an immediate review of the latest herbicide tolerant GE soy that is resistant to being sprayed with 2,4-D, Round Up and Glufosinate, she approved for our food supply.
The meeting focused on GE Free’s concerns surrounding the genetically engineered soy application, and the process followed by the Trans Tasman Food Standards Australia New Zealand Authority (FSANZ) on GE food approvals and new and emerging evidence. FSANZ provided submitters with over 30,000 pages of data on the creation and genetic makeup of this soybean, DAS44406-6. However, when asked for the proof of safety when people consume the food, they could not produce even one page on feeding studies.
In April, the USDA United States Dept. of Agriculture deferred a decision on the approval of 2,4-D resistant soybean for commercialisation due to lack of evidence of either environmental or human safety.
"This soy bean contains a barrage of engineered genes that make it resistant to a cocktail of highly toxic chemicals, it has never been tested on any animal or person" said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ.
Genetically engineered (GE) foods undergo special assessment via Food Safety laws because of the new laboratory-created transgenic genes that they contain. This is to ensure that the foods protect consumer’s health.
"We cannot understand how a body of assessors can ask the Minister to approve a GE food as safe to eat, when there have been no studies on it. It does not meet regulatory requirements that the public expects to protect their health."
Evidence is now showing that GE foods have differing levels of essential nutrients and some new proteins as well as having the potential to contain levels of chemical herbicide and insecticides over 200 times greater than non-GE foods. Yet, these significant differences are considered not "biologically meaningful" and passed over by the expert assessors, although they have caused serious harm to the animals that are eating it. These studies have shown endocrine and tumour generating effects; health professionals are beginning to see a clinical link between digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome and even bleeding in the bowel and eating GE foods.
"We were told at the meeting that there are no human studies on GE foods and their effects," said Mrs. Bleakley. "This is not good enough; if a child or anyone else has an adverse reaction from eating a GE food there are no diagnostic tools or the ability of any health professional to detect any relationship let alone know how to treat the illness".
We asked the Minister to table a 1000 + signature petition in parliament on our behalf, she intends to make a decision by 11th June.
The petition was collected on the day of the March Against Monsanto and asks the Minister to: -
1. Freeze all new applications for GE foods while the FSANZ safety assessment regime is aligned with the European Food Safety Authority guidelines on GE; and past approvals are reassessed.
2. Enforcement and full labelling of all foods made using GE techniques including processed products such as: vegetable oils, starches, sugars, and meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GE feed.
3. Removal of exemptions from GE labelling requirements in Food Standard 1.5.2 so any trace of a GE organism in a foodstuff, stock feed or seed must be fully and clearly labelled as GE in origin.
"We are angry that the Minister signed this dangerous GE soy food into law before meeting with us and believe that the hurdles that she will have to overcome will make it almost impossible for her to withdraw the food. With the total absence of feeding studies she appears to have put her trade responsibilities before the health of New Zealanders" said Mrs. Bleakley.
We are awaiting the outcome of the Regulatory Review committee on our submission to look into the process for New Zealand assessment of GE foods, the meeting to consider this was held on the 5th June.