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3-Food: GM food may face legal challenge in Australia

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TITLE:  Genetically modified foods may face legal challenge
SOURCE: Australian Associated Press, by Katrina Willis
DATE:   May 7, 1999

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Genetically modified foods may face legal challenge

The Australian GeneEthics Network was cited as saying today the decision of the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) to allow 20 genetically-modified food  ingredients to be sold pending safety assessments was illegal and it  should declare it null and void, and conduct a public inquiry into whether the foods should be permitted to be sold. GeneEthics director Bob Phelps was cited as saying the government illegally bent the rules to give chemical companies a regulation-free holiday for the next year while ANZFA conducts safety assessments. He accused ANZFA, health ministers and food industry of betraying public trust, saying there was evidence some foods posed  a risk to public health and safety so significant that regulators in several countries had refused to register them for production or sale, adding, "We are looking for a response from them (ANZFA) that indicates they have some doubt about whether they have complied with their own Act." Phelps said that depending!
 on ANZFA's response, the community-based group would explore options, including action in the courts or before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. ANZFA general manager standards Peter Liehne was cited as saying he was not fully aware of the contents of a letter from GeneEthics which arrived yesterday and he did not wish to comment on it, adding, "However, the arrangements under our Act allow, under section 37, for us in a situation where it was warranted to forgo many of the requirements in order to ensure the continuity of the food supply or in an emergency situation. And it was considered that the issue that was brought forward on May 13 warranted such an approach and the ministers agreed to  that in making their decision."


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