Steffan Browning

We must stop gambling with food standards

by Steffan Browning

I keep being astounded by our food safety regulator’s lax attitude to genetically engineered food. This new report shows that once again they are making assumptions that GE food is safe without requiring any real evidence.

I want to see an urgent reassessment of how genetically engineered (GE) foods are evaluated for food safety in New Zealand following this study which showed that regulators are making decisions on assumptions rather than facts.

On top of that, genetically engineered foods in New Zealand are rarely correctly labelled, and haven’t been enforced since 2003, making it practically impossible for people to avoid genetically engineered food.

The report, just released by Canterbury University’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI), found that food safety risks from GE-RNA technologies are not being considered adequately by New Zealand’s food standards agency, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The authors state that, “changing the nature, kind and quantity of particular regulatory-RNA molecules through genetic engineering can create biosafety risks,” and that the molecules can even withstand cooking and digestion.

Just like the more than 70 GE food lines that FSANZ has ticked through as okay for New Zealanders to consume without adequate testing, FSANZ is basing its safety evaluations of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) on assumptions and the evidence of the very companies who will profit from these GE products.

It is time for New Zealand to regain control of its food standards and ensure safe food and effective labelling.

Published in Environment & Resource Management | Health & Wellbeing by Steffan Browning on Wed, March 27th, 2013   

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