New Zealand food labelling of genetically engineered (GE) food components needs to be investigated urgently, according to the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand.
“Soil & Health challenges New Zealand’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Simon Power, and Minister for Food Safety Kate Wilkinson, to find any accurately labelled food products containing genetically engineered ingredients in super market shelves,” said Soil & Health-Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.
World Food Day on October 16 is being marked internationally by activities showing the lack of labelling on GE foods, and a push against GE foods by events such as Right2Know and Millions Against Monsanto.(1,2)
Seventy different (GE) food lines and many GE food additives have been approved for New Zealand consumption by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), with no GE food applications having been turned down, although risks to human safety have been shown in animal feeding studies.(3)
Labelling of foods containing GE ingredients in New Zealand is practically invisible although GE soybean imports from the USA and Brazil have increased significantly and are widely used in processed foods including breads.
“USA consumers are calling for legislation to cover GE foods. New Zealand has such legislation, but it is not enforced,” said Mr Browning.(4)
“NZFSA has the role of ensuring foods containing GE/GM are labeled in accordance with the standard in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, but is hopeless at monitoring it.”
“When was there a comprehensive study taken by NZFSA to ensure consumers have the choice between GE and non-GE in their diets?”
“New Zealand should follow the Cypriot Parliament’s lead that gives consumers the choice of whether or not to eat GE foods, especially as reports casts doubt on GE food safety,” said Mr Browning.
The Cypriot Parliament passed a bill in April that will has GE foods placed on separate shelves to non-GE foods, and a French report showed weaknesses in GE food safety evaluation, and pointed to possible kidney, liver and reproductive health concerns. (5,6)
“Democracy, despite pressure from the USA, has led to the people of Cyprus getting the type of consumer choice that New Zealanders should be able to expect.”
“GE foods, of which New Zealand allows approximately 70 different GE lines, spread through numerous processed products, must now be displayed on separate shelves in supermarkets and shops in Cyprus, with strong fines for non-compliance. The Cypriots are serious.”
“Soil & Health – Organic NZ reported last year that there were 64 plus GE food lines allowed into the New Zealand food supply, consisting of GE corn, soya, alfalfa, potatoes, canola, cotton, sugar beet and rice, and numerous GE processing aids. This has increased to approximately seventy with several applications in process at any one time,” said Mr Browning.
“FSANZ has yet to turn a GE food application down despite growing concern over GE food safety and flimsy food safety studies. Independent studies show very real risks but the same regulators that take decades to ban now discontinued pesticides continue to protect trade interests ahead of consumers.”
“The latest Seralini report uses available data to show that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), that FSANZ and NZFSA look to, is not testing adequately for health risks from GE foods. Independent research has previously shown organ, hormone and reproductive changes in animal GE feeding studies.”(7)
Soil & Health – Organic NZ has an Organic 2020 vision similar to the USA and Cypriot consumers protesting today. It is for a GE Free food and environment with clear choice of what is consumed.
Oranga nuku – oranga kai – oranga tāngata. Healthy soil – Healthy food – Healthy people.
The Soil & Health Association of NZ – Organic NZ
(7) Seralini et al have conducted studies showing organ damage in rats fed GE food. The latest report is using the material including industry funded studies and shows the food safety authority is not adequately testing GE foods. Extract from latest French report (6): The 90-day-long tests are insufficient to evaluate chronic toxicity, and the signs highlighted in the kidneys and livers could be the onset of chronic diseases. However, no minimal length for the tests is yet obligatory for any of the GMOs cultivated on a large scale, and this is socially unacceptable in terms of consumer health protection. We are suggesting that the studies should be improved and prolonged, as well as being made compulsory, and that the sexual hormones should be assessed too, and moreover, reproductive and multigenerational studies ought to be conducted too.