Minister Urged to Intervene After Viral Gene Found in Crops

GE Free NZ is calling for intervention by the new Minister of Food Safety, Nikki Kaye, to direct the Food Standards Authority (FSANZ) to halt its assessment of a new GE soybean resistant to three herbicides, RoundUp, glufosinate and 2,4-D.

The latest scientific discovery of possible unexpected genetic consequences in GE crops being sold already has cast an even darker shadow over the flawed approval process for GE foods. The new 2,4-D-resistant crop (application A1073), must be kept out of the food chain.

The new research just published has detected an overlap of the introduced transgenic gene construct into an active viral region (Gene VI). This has the potential to seriously harm those who eat the foods containing this engineered event. Viral genes invade their host by disabling the protective defence of a cell to incorporate their infectious genes, and some plant viruses have similarities to those that affect humans)

The European Food Safety Authority has been alerted to the viral gene overlap that is a product of the genetic engineering process. Gene VI was found to be in 54 of the 86 GE/transgenic crops, which also contain a gene from the Cauliflower Mosaic virus (CaMV35S) gene to make a crop resistant to the RoundUp herbicide.

The call for intervention by the new Minister follows the failure to act by former Minister Kate Wilkinson when she held the food safety portfolio in cabinet.

“This is extremely concerning as the public rely on the purported expertise of food regulatory bodies,” said Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ.

In September 2012, a paper by Professor Seralini and colleagues reported that there were serious deleterious effects including organ damage and tumour development in rats fed on GE corn that contained the CaMV 35S gene (Monsanto’s NK603).

There are few studies to monitor the effects of GE food when eaten. There are no diagnostic tools for health practitioners, no post-monitoring has ever been done and labelling of products is inadequate. This is in the context of a rising epidemic of digestive related cancers and illnesses with no as-yet identified cause.

“It is no good relying on industry studies: science must be unbiased and on the side of the public health. Those who are assessing GE food must be trained on the complex risks of GE/transgenic food and must stop dismissing all studies that go against the data supplied by industry,” said Claire Bleakley.

“It is time that our Food Standards Authority (FSANZ) required rigorous long term feeding studies and assessed applications using independent published science rather than unpublished industry opinions," said Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.

"We need the new Minster to intervene and stop standing on the sidelines while the integrity of New Zealand's food system is steadily undermined."

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