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2-Plants: Australia approves three GE potatoes for sale as food

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----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------

TITLE:  Australia potato clearance brings GM crops closer
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   September 1, 2000

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Australia potato clearance brings GM crops closer

SYDNEY - Australia's gradual progress toward the authorisation of a 
full range of genetically modified (GM) foods for sale has taken a 
new step forward with an "all clear" safety assessment for three 
varieties of GM potatoes. The potatoes join five other GM food 
varieties which have also been cleared by the authorities, with 
assessment reports now before the Australian public for comment. The 
GM food products now open for public comment were expected to be 
presented for approval at the next session, in November, of 
Australian and New Zealand Health Ministers, meeting as the Australia 
New Zealand Food Standards Council (ANZFSC).

The five are high oleic acid soybean, herbicide tolerant canola, 
insect protected corn, herbicide tolerant corn and herbicide tolerant 
cotton, Michael Dack, spokesman for the Australia New Zealand Food 
Authority (ANZFA), said yesterday. The three varieties of GM potato 
were not expected to go to the Council until its following meeting 
early next year, he said. All of the products are imported, with GM 
cotton and GM carnations Australia's only approved commercial GM 

Dack said about 60 percent of food in Australian supermarkets 
contained a GM component. Products presently on sale such as potato 
chips and pretzels could very well have GM potato content from U.S. 
product, he said. Approvals were being issued retrospectively on 
goods already in the marketplace, he said. "Once all 18 applications 
that we have received have been cleared, then no new GM foods will go 
up on the shelves until they have been safety assessed," he said.

"We allowed these to remain on the shelves while the safety 
assessments went on because it would clear supermarkets of food if we 
banned them. But soon as a tomato with a fish gene in it or the like 
came over ... that food wouldn't be allowed into shops until it had 
undergone the safety assessment work," he said.

Canola is expected to be the next GM crop to be cultivated in 
Australia, for the 2002 season, but approval for this will be through 
a separate process than for imported GM food products. The "all 
clear" assessment reports for the three varieties of GM potato brings 
to 10 the number of GM foods on which full safety assessments have 
been completed by the Food Authority, including Bt cotton and Roundup 
Ready soy.

Reports would be released in the next 10 months on eight other foods 
as their assessments were completed, Dack said. "To date, ANZFA has 
found no evidence that GM foods are less safe than their 
conventionally produced counterparts - a finding supported by food 
agencies around the world," ANZFA said in a statement.


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