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Monday, November 2

NZ must withdraw approval for GE food

The Government must immediately withdraw its approval for a genetically engineered corn that is no longer being commercially developed in Europe because of safety concerns, Green Party Food Safety spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

Monsanto’s high lysine corn (LY038) was approved for human and animal consumption in New Zealand by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) in December 2007.  This was despite strenuous objections from the Green Party and scientists at Canterbury University's Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety who warned that the new corn was not safe when cooked.

“The Government was warned that when this variety of genetically engineered high lysine corn was cooked, harmful compounds would be produced which could cause cancer, diabetes and other health risks,” said Ms Kedgley.

“However there was no effort whatsoever from FSANZ to assess the food hazards that could result from cooking or processing the corn before they approved it for human consumption.”

FSANZ was criticised at the time it approved LYO38 corn for accepting a Monsanto study based on rats and chickens fed with raw corn when humans are more likely to eat the corn cooked.

“It is deplorable that our food safety regulators approved a food as ‘safe’ when they hadn’t conducted a full set of tests or tested the corn when it was cooked and processed,” said Ms Kedgley.

“Instead of ignoring the food safety risks, the European Union has acknowledged them, and is demanding further safety testing.”

Ms Kedgley said the difference between the approach of the European Union and our food safety regulators was stark.

“While our regulators put corporate interests ahead of food safety, Europe put the health and safety of consumers ahead of Monsanto’s lobbying.

It's time our regulators took a safety-first, precautionary approach to assessing new foods, especially when assessing new, genetically engineered foods.

I call on FSANZ to withdraw its approval for the corn, and call for further food safety tests to be conducted, as the Europeans demand.