Food Safety Minister Annette King has taken a pause on the approval of a GE animal feed corn (LY038), engineered to produce high amounts of lysine for maximum weight gain in pigs and chickens, reports NZ Soil and Health.
Monsanto is seeking approval for its appearance in processed foods in New Zealand to avoid costly recalls that would occur if the animal feed was not approved for human consumption.
Trans-Tasman food issue
Ms King, the sole New Zealand member of the trans-Tasman FSANZ Ministerial Council, had asked for the original review of an earlier FSANZ recommendation to allow the GE animal feed corn in human food, and is now asking the NZFSA for more advice as to how appropriate it is for New Zealand to accept amendments for GE varieties intended for use as animal feed so we can join food standards with Australia.
However Ms King’s request for advice from the NZ Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) may be to sort out whether the GE corn was legal in NZ, not to determine its food safety, said Soil and Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Some assurance that food safety is being investigated, would show New Zealand’s independence from the trans-Tasman agency FSANZ’ flawed assumptions and disregard for precaution.”
Canterbury GE researcher's concerns
FSANZ has rejected a detailed, scientific submission from a leading New Zealand authority on the safety of GE organisms, Associate Professor Jack Heinemann of Canterbury University's Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety. Heinnemann wanted tougher testing of the LY038 corn.
To date Monsanto has only carried out feeding tests on chickens and rats eating raw corn, but the corn would be cooked when included in processed food for human consumption. When cooked, this corn produces toxic compounds that have been linked to several human illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitis and cardiovascular disease, Mr Browning said.
“Soil & Health has called for New Zealand to undertake its own food safety assessments and studies following a lack of scrutiny of GE feeding test data by Australian government authorities.”
Decisions based on inadequate and biased food studies are not acceptable, and New Zealand needs to reclaim control over food safety testing and its food supply, he said.