by Steffan Browning
The Food Bill is before Parliament at the moment and is intended to be an update and improvement of food safety legislation from the 20 year old Food Act 1981. There has been significant interest in the Bill, and I have been going around the country talking to lots of you about it. The draft Bill is currently being reviewed and we are happy with some of the improvements that will be made.
The road block for me, however, is that any mention of genetically modified (GE/GM/GMO) food was removed. I know, like many of you do, that genetic modification is a very serious food safety issue and needs to be back in the Food Bill before it is passed. I will be presenting to Minister Kate Wilkinson on this issue next month and have been working with GE Free NZ and others to compile the research needed to show her the safety issues of GE foods.
GE food safety research
There are a host of studies from around the world that make the express conclusion that we just don’t have the evidence to say that GE foods are safe for human consumption, and that in fact, much evidence shows that GE foods have really worrying health effects on animals that eat them.
Earth Open Source has just released an amazing report which examines the claims that GE foods are safe to eat. The researchers conclude that many of these claims are just not true, and that there is no need to take risks with GE crops. I really recommend you have a look at this report here [http://earthopensource.org/index.php/news/60-why-genetically-engineered-food-is-dangerous-new-report-by-genetic-engineers] as it is a great round up of the issues.
FSANZ and GE
Even FSANZ considers GE to be a food safety issue, saying on their website that:
All genetically modified foods intended for sale in Australia and New Zealand must undergo a safety evaluation by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ will not approve a GM food unless it is safe to eat.
However, FSANZ has never actually turned down as unsafe any of the more than 70 applications. The research I have seen convinces me that New Zealand law must include provision for GE food safety regulations.
GE is a food safety issue
Taking considerations of GE foods out of the Food Bill sends a clear signal that GE foods are not considered a food safety issue. This is really concerning to me and I’m sure many of you.
With the many studies proving that GE foods cannot yet be considered safe, and with the public concerns around genetic modification, I am asking that GE be reinstated in the Food Bill as a potential matter for regulation.
I will keep you updated with our progress on this and other improvements to the Food Bill after our meeting with the Minister.