GM corn approved for use as fodder

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009

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Genetically modified corn for animals has been approved by the Government as safe for New Zealanders to eat, despite concerns it may cause cancer.

Food Safety Minister Lianne Dalziel signed off this week on the high-lysine GM corn LY038, made by international seed giant Monsanto.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority says it is as safe for human consumption as conventional corn. The authority gazetted the GM corn for New Zealand use yesterday after a nearly six-month delay.

Opponents say that if the corn accidentally gets into the human food-chain and is then cooked, it could potentially cause cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the Government had given in to Monsanto and had set a "dangerous precedent" for untested GM animal feed to enter the food chain.

"That it has chosen to cave in so abjectly to Monsanto on a key issue of food security is an insult to the world-leading scientists who raised substantive issues in their submissions and is a tragedy for New Zealand consumers."

The director of Canterbury University's Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety, Jack Heinemann, said the regulators, the Food Safety Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, were "deaf to sound science".

Sustainability Council executive director Simon Terry said the credibility of both organisations had taken a significant hit. "It lays the ground for routine contamination of the food-chain."

A spokeswoman for Ms Dalziel said the minister had studied the approval process carefully and was satisfied with the outcome.

Carole Inkster, the Food Safety Authority's joint food standards director, said the process to gain approval was sound and involved two rounds of public consultation.

The corn was declared safe in July by the Australia New Zealand Food Regulation ministerial council, but the final decision was delayed while then Food Safety Minister Annette King sought further advice.

It was the 33rd GM product to be accepted as safe for human consumption in New Zealand, including canola, lucerne, soya beans and potatoes, but there was very little of that on shop shelves, she said.

There was a low possibility that the corn intended for animals would be eaten by humans.

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- The Press

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