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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More reason not to trust the NZFSA

I'm trying very hard not to be political with all this election stuff going on here, but this really got my attention.

Frogblog has revealed yet another example of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority's failure to protect the public from toxic imported foods, this time from American agri-giant Monsanto.

The most concerning thing about it is that this is not a standalone product that we can choose to avoid by shopping wisely.

MON863 [is] one of Monsanto’s genetically modified varieties of maize. It struck controversy last year when an independent French study showed that, despite it being approved for human consumption in 2006, it caused signs of liver and kidney toxicity as well as hormonal changes in rats.The Food Safety Authority of New Zealand had approved the corn for use in Australia and New Zealand, in October 2003, based on evidence from Monsanto. FSANZ reports that MON863 is in used in high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and corn flour. Such products are processed into breakfast cereals, baking products, extruded confectionery and corn chips. If you look on the back of most processed foods you will find high fructose corn syrup or corn starch. It’s a fairly common flavour enhancer. However, our labelling laws make it impossible to be certain which foods contain it and which don’t.

Once again, the Government's unwillingness to implement mandatory Country of Origin labelling on imported foods or foods prepared with imported ingredients means that we risk consuming potentialy harmful substances, usually without even knowing.

It gets worse:

Then today the Sustainability Council said of FSANZ:

New Zealand’s food safety regulator ’shopped’ for alternative advice when a report it had commissioned from ESR questioned the safety of a GM food.

The second report it got replaced an earlier commissioned one which said there were concerns about consumer safety from MON863:

The new document was produced by a different ESR division to the group Gallagher belonged to. However, instead of an “updated” report, NZFSA accepted a letter that carried no clear reference to the Gallagher Report or its scientific conclusions. In place of a formal peer-reviewed report that had answered NZFSA’s brief and was prepared by a scientist with the appropriate expertise, NZFSA accepted a letter that carried just four sentences in response to the original brief, and was signed off by a group that NZFSA knew had originally passed on the work after stating they lacked the appropriate expertise. The letter indicated there was no scientific evidence that MON863 is unsafe to eat.

(Also courtesy of Frogblog)

So, not only are they remiss in their duty, but they are engaged in an active campaign of misinformation. And we are supposed to trust these people with our safety and the health of our children? I am quite frankly appalled.

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