Soil & Health applauds pause on high lysine corn

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Soil & Health applauds Food Safety Minister Annette King’s pause on the approval of a GE animal feed corn (LY038), engineered to produce high amounts of lysine for maximum weight gain in pigs and chickens. Monsanto is seeking approval for its appearance in processed foods in New Zealand to avoid costly recalls that would occur if the animal feed was not approved for human consumption.

“However Soil & Health is concerned that Minister Annette King’s request for advice from the NZ Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) may be to sort out whether this GE corn was legal in NZ, rather than the real, more concerning issue of food safety,” said spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“Some assurance that food safety is being investigated, would show New Zealand’s independence from the trans-Tasman agency FSANZ’ flawed assumptions and disregard for precaution.”

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has rejected a detailed, scientific submission from a leading New Zealand authority on GE organisms, Associate Professor Jack Heinemann of Canterbury University’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety. Dr Heinemann wanted further, more rigorous testing of the LY038 corn.

Ms King, the sole New Zealand member of the trans-Tasman FSANZ Ministerial Council, had asked for the original review of an earlier FSANZ recommendation to allow the GE animal feed corn in human food. Ms King is now asking the NZFSA for more advice as to how appropriate it is for New Zealand to accept amendments for GE varieties intended for use as animal feed to join food standards.

To date Monsanto has only carried out feeding tests on chickens and rats eating raw corn, but the corn would be cooked when included in processed food for human consumption. When cooked, this corn produces toxic compounds that have been linked to several human illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitis and cardiovascular disease.

The high lysine corn (LY038) has not been compared with its equivalent non-GE corn, as is required under NZ law, but with another variety of GE corn that has NOT been approved for human use anywhere in the world. The comparator has NO history of safe use. In fact, it is the brother of LY038.

”Soil & Health supports Heinemann’s submission and it is encouraging to see that Minister Annette King might not be taking the flawed FSANZ recommendation at face value,” said Browning. “Soil & Health has called for New Zealand to undertake its own food safety assessments and studies following a lack of scrutiny of GE feeding test data by Australian government authorities.”

“Decisions based on inadequate and biased food studies are not acceptable, and New Zealand needs to reclaim control over food safety testing and its food supply.”

“Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020. Commitment by New Zealand’s leaders to a sustainable future and healthy community should target growth in organic production and reject risky GE foods such as LY038 high lysine corn.”