by Steffan Browning
Tuesday was World Food Day, a day set to acknowledge the founding of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and issues such as food security. In Australia and New Zealand the day was justifiably used to point out the slack approach to food safety by our trans-Tasman food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
A report, “Fed Up with FSANZ,” was released in a campaign initiated by MADGE (Mothers are Demystifying Genetic Engineering) in Australia, and supported in New Zealand by GE Free NZ.
GE Free NZ representatives presented me a dossier including the well referenced Fed Up with FSANZ report from MADGE. I will be delivering the dossier to our Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson.
The dossier includes a letter from Kate Wilkinson and also the Ministry of Primary Industries. They show that genetic engineering (GE) of food is not being treated seriously as a food safety issue by our Government, although independent studies show that GE foods are risky to people and animals.
New Zealand and Australia share some reasonable GE food labelling regulations, however it appears that neither country has enforced those requirements for the benefit of consumers.
Kate Wilkinson has also written to me, reiterating that she will not be reinstating reference to GM food back into the Food Bill, which implies continued reliance on FSANZ for decisions around the safety of GE foods.
FSANZ has never declined any of about 75 GE food applications, including the Monsanto Roundup tolerant NK603 corn application a decade ago. Rat GE feeding studies using NK603 have shown increased tumours, liver and kidney disease and premature deaths.
I’m fed up with FSANZ too, and will continue campaigns to get GE food labelling effective until those risky foods are removed from our grocery shelves and animal feeds.