INDEPENDENT NEWS

GE free only if not produced with GE organisms

Published: Wed 11 Aug 1999 12:00 AM
The Alliance is presenting a standard for the labeling of Genetically Engineered(GE) foods at the Health Select Committee today at 12 o'clock which will only accept foods as GE free if they have not been manufactured or contain GE foods.
'Its not the GE content it's the GE origins of food that counts in making labeling meaningful,' said Alliance Health and Environmental spokesperson Phillida Bunkle.
Phillida Bunkle is presenting a 27,000 signature petition to the select committee calling for la beling of GE foods, the next step is to define an acceptable and meaningful labeling standard.
'Foods must be labeled if any GE organism was used in the production of the food, not only if there are GE components in the food.
'We need labels which trace to foods to its origins. It is the only way to give meaningful quality assurance in our foods.
'For example in the US cows are treated with a GE hormone which is not present in the cows milk. The milk maybe associated with very serious increased risks of breast and prostrate cancer. Under current proposals for labeling this milk would not be labeled as a GE.
'The issue of content in starches such as flour and oils is also similar. They have been produced from GE plants, but only have minute traces of GE proteins. Nevertheless these flours and oils may still carry a risk to human and environmental health and should be labeled as such.
'Traceability to origin is also important in identifying any problems GE food may cause. Yesterday at the select committee we heard from a Doctor whose patient had a life threatening allergic reaction to salsa that they had previously eaten unharmed. The Doctor was not sure if there had been a change in the food to a GE product. If it was labeled correctly the Doctor could have determined if any changes in the food were the allergic factor. Only labeling by origin will identify this risk.
'This traceability will remove the meaningless 'may contain label'. This 'may contain' label suggested by the Ministry of Health is overwhelmingly rejected in the public consultation but is still on the table in ANZFA.
''May contain' will be used by lazy manufacturers to avoid identifying the origin of foods. Insisting on traceability will remove this category and give consumers clear information on both personal and environmental health risks.
ENDS

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