GE Food Ingredients Need Immediate Investigation

News today from GE Free NZ shows that a complex pesticide riddled genetically engineered (GE) corn, Smartstax, is being allowed into the New Zealand food supply without assessment by food regulators.(1)

Already 64 GE food lines and more than 14 GE food processing aids have been allowed through the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) assessment process, but none have contained anything like the 6 insecticides and 2 herbicide resistant genes that are contained in the Monsanto/Dow Chemicals Smartstax, according to the Soil & Health Association who have included in their Organic NZ magazine a list of New Zealand allowed GE food ingredients. (2,3)

“In the last 10 months FSANZ has allowed 3 more GE food lines into the food supply and is assessing another 6, but now FSANZ is allowing more complex and untested GE foods through without assessment,” said Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“FSANZ has yet to decline an application for a GE food despite important animal feeding studies showing multi-generational infant mortalities, disorders of the reproductive, immune and blood clotting systems, and increased cases of pre-cancerous growths, and anti-nutrient effects.”

GE plant lines approved include canola, corn, potato, cotton, soy bean, lucerne (alfalfa), sugarbeet, and rice. Further GE corn, cotton and soybean applications are being processed. At least fourteen approved microbial-based food processing aids have also been approved.

“Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson needs to ensure a comprehensive review of imported GE foodstuffs, the gene constructs involved, whether they have been assessed, and whether GE foods are labeled in the supermarkets.”

“There is significant non-compliance in GE labeling and neither FSANZ nor the Minister’s New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) is monitoring what is happening.”

“Until monitoring, or a safe precautionary approach, by the food safety authorities occurs, consumers can only confidently purchase processed foods if certified organic or GE/GMO Free labelled products,” said Mr Browning.

“The list of ingredients published in Organic NZ that may be derived from GE canola, corn, cotton or soy, is so broad that most processed foods sold in supermarkets will be at risk of GE contamination now, unless labeled GE/GMO Free or certified organic. The Organic NZ list of GE enzymes further reduces the uncontaminated product range.”

“FSANZ is ignoring mounting evidence of health risks from GE foods, just as it ignores serious health issues from pesticide residues in food. The same situation of complex mixtures and toxicity arise with GE as in pesticides, which FSANZ also fails to investigate properly.”

“Research has shown that pesticides in combination have toxicity effects greater than the expected sum, but FSANZ who sets food standards for Australia and New Zealand, generally appears to be a food industry puppet and is focused on facilitating trade ahead of exercising a precautionary approach to human health.”

“The latest New Zealand FSANZ Board member has simultaneously been made chairman of the Crown Forest Research Agency Scion, similarly reckless with GE, albeit in the environment. However with his previous experience as Chief Executive of successful GE Free trading Zespri, Mr Tony Nowall may understand that blindly following a GE path can have disadvantages.”(4, 5)

“FSANZ and NZFSA are too quick to accept GE company pseudo science and have consistently ignored the concerns of those providing precautionary advice including from highly experienced Australian and New Zealand GE scientists,” said Mr Browning.

“In 2007, following intense scientific debate following the release of previously blocked Monsanto data on rat GE feeding studies of MON 863 corn, a FSANZ staff member said that no independent feeding tests or independent assessments of company data are necessary and confidential company data are fine for safety assessments.”

It was found that the rats fed with the GM corn showed signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys compared with those fed non-GM corn. Possible hormone alteration was also shown.

“The Food Safety Minister has the power to order an inquiry into why GE food labelling isn’t happening and why FSANZ is dismissing caution and allowing inadequately tested GE foods into New Zealand.”

The Soil & Health Association of New Zealand Inc is in its 70th year, and is the largest membership organisation supporting organic food and farming in New Zealand, and as such advocates for healthy and safe food and environmental sustainability. It has a vision of an Organic 2020 that does not include GE food, animals, trees or crops.
GE Free in food & environment Smartstax GE corn media release, Smartstax GE Corn Leaves Food Standards Authority in Disarray, and contacts below.

(1) GE Free NZ in food & environment media statement further below.
(3) Organic NZ July/August 2010

Smartstax GE Corn Leaves Food Standards Authority in Disarray

The Food Standards Authority Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is in disarray, issuing conflicting reports that are vague and elusive, over the entry into the food chain of a new Monsanto/Dow Chemical pesticide filled GE corn variety, “Genuity Smartstax”. The new variety of corn is “stacked” with a combination of six different insecticidal and two herbicide tolerant genes that have never been assessed. [1]

In Australia, FSANZ has given MADGE [2] an understanding that Smartstax has been approved even though the levels of the pesticides being produced in the corn are unknown, safety parameters for human ingestion have never been set, and despite the scientific evidence that the combination of different gene insertions could produce further chemical or protein allergens.

“Replies to Freedom of Information Act requests by GE Free NZ to FSANZ reveal the Authority is unclear whether Smartstax has been regulated to enter the food chain, claiming they have no information,” [3] says Claire Bleakley from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

“But in further correspondence they claim it does not require assessment because approval had previously been given for the individual genetic modifications. Such an approach cannot be scientifically justified and presents a new level of threat to food safety.”

The International Codex Alimentarius rules [4] and the FSANZ standard 1.5.2 -1 (b) clearly states that any plant that has been genetically engineered or any plant that is derived or descended from a GE parent line even if conventionally bred has to be assessed for safety. [5]

“Smartstax has been engineered in the laboratory to contain the stacked genes with a toxic cocktail of traits that can have unique combined effects irrespective of reassurances that individual genes have been assessed for safety” said Mrs. Bleakley.

The Smartsatx corn is being grown on 4 million acres in the Corn Belt of America and the chemical cocktail of Bt insecticides kill caterpillars and release the Bt toxin to kill soil micro organisms below ground. The corn survives being sprayed with high levels of herbicides that are absorbed into the grain, and which cannot be washed off or boiled away.

American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called for a moratorium; implementation of long term safety testing with epidemiological research and methods to determining the effects of GE foods on human health.  They asked Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible.
“…GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit.” [6]

“As FSANZ has not regulated the Smartstax corn it must not allow it any where near our food supply as it could severely harm consumer’s health. The corn produces high levels of toxic insecticides which have been linked to damage to internal organs, digestive complications, sterility, allergies and sudden deaths [7],” says Claire Bleakley. “There are still no diagnostic tools to detect if rising levels of allergies, digestive irritability and skin diseases could be attributable to the increasing levels of GE in our diet.”

“The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is mandated to evaluate any genetically engineered food and assess its safety. Its mission statement is to protect the health of the public, and they must immediately uphold public safety and stop the corn product from entering our food supply”.

References –
[1] Genuity Smartstax –
[2] MADGE press release

[3] Responses to GE Free NZ  requests from the FSANZ Acting General Counsel state:
“…FSANZ has previously approved all of the parental plant lines that have been used to conventionally breed Smartstax variety, under FSANZ‘s rules conventionally bred progeny of approved GE lines do not require specific approval”.

Paragraph 14. [..]. Unintended effects in recombinant-DNA plants may also arise through the insertion of DNA sequences and/or they may arise through subsequent conventional breeding of the recombinant-DNA plant. Safety assessment should include data and information to reduce the possibility that a food derived from a recombinant-DNA plant would have an unexpected, adverse effect on human health.

[5] FSANZ standard 1.5.2 under the definition 1(b), 1(b)(ii) 1(b)(i)

[6] Position paper on Genetically Modified Foods.  American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), 2009,

[7] de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726.

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