New Zealand’s Minister of Consumer Affairs John Boscawen, and Minister for Food Safety Kate Wilkinson, need to follow the Cypriot Parliament’s lead and give New Zealand consumers the choice of whether to eat genetically engineered (GE) foods or not, especially as a new report casts doubt on GE food safety, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.
The Cypriot Parliament has on Thursday passed a bill that will have genetically engineered (GE) foods placed on separate shelves to non-GE foods, and last month a French report showed weaknesses in GE food safety evaluation, and pointed to possible kidney, liver and reproductive health concerns. (1,2)
“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,” said Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“GE foods, of which New Zealand allows approxiamately70 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.”
“GE foods and those with GE ingrediants, will need prominent signage in three different languages. The Cypriots are serious.”
Originally mooted in 2005, Cyprus was subject to US embassy pressure saying that such a Bill would be “like a poke in the eye to the US” and likely to damage US-Cyprus relations. However the Bill was passed by unanimous vote, regardless of industry and US wishes.”(3)
Wikileaks has shown that the USA has been exerting pressure on numerous countries, including New Zealand to relax regulatory conditions and allow more GE foods and crops. The USA is the world’s leading developer and producer of GE products and has been part of a major public relations push in New Zealand to soften public resistance to GE.
“Soil & Health – Organic NZ reported last year that there were 64 plus GE food lines allowed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) 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. (4)
“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 took decades to ban endosulfan continue to protect trade interests ahead of consumers.”
“The latest Seralini report uses available data to show that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) 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.”
Soil & Health – Organic NZ has an Organic 2020 vision similar to the Cypriot people of a GE Free country with clear choice of what is consumed.
(5) 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 (2): 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.