GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Australian Regs on GE Foods Stink

The following AAP Report, recently posted on this conference, glowingly and
unfairly presents the official line on the proposed GE food standard in
Australia and New Zealand. The Minister's media release almost certainly
originated in the Department of Industry and Science which spends >$100
million pa on promoting and funding gene technologies.

As expected, the proposal is pathetically weak, though the Australian Food
Council (transnational food companies) says the draft is too tough. The
following letter to the editor sums up our view.

The draft ANZFA standard, released by Senator Bob Woods on Monday Feb 3, is
open for comment until April 3. Get your copy of the draft from ANZFA on
+616 271 2222. Letters to the Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge
Parliament House, Canberra are needed! (Woods has resigned)

Also, don't forget that food irradiation and synthetic foods are likely to
be approved soon under the proposed Novel Foods Standard. Probably no
labelling either.

Doesn't it just make you sick?
          Genetically changed food to face stringent standard
>AAP  03.02.97 05:45
>Copyright 1997 The Australian Associated Press.  Redistribution unauthorised.
>   CANBERRA, Feb 3 AAP - Food derived from genetic manipulation  technology
>would be banned from sale until health and safety  requirements were satisfied
>under a new draft food standard  released for discussion today.
>   Senator Bob Woods, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, said the  standard
>regulating genetically modified food was an important step  towards ensuring
>public health and safety, support for industry and  appropriate harnessing of a
>important new technology.
>   He said the draft standard had been prepared by the Australia  New Zealand
>Food Authority (ASNZFA) which was now seeking views  from the public.
>   "The integrity of Australia's food system hinges on an  appropriate level of
>regulation which safeguards public health and  consumer confidence while not
>burdening industry," Senator Woods  said in a statement.
>   "The importance of gene technology to Australia is immense. We  are in a
>position to benefit through improved production, greater  industry efficiency
>and maximising our home grown technological  expertise in the world market.
>   "Tough guidelines guarding public safety and confidence will  strengthen our
>system and underscore the integrity of Australia's  food industry."
>   Senator Woods said public comment and submissions would be  received to the
>end of April and would be taken into account before  the ANZFPA board considere
>a final standard.
>   AAP
February 6, 1997

The Letters Editor
The Australian
2 Holt Street
Surrey Hills  2010

Fax # (02) 288 2370

Dear Sir/Ms,

There is no general ban on genetically engineered foods (Australian
4/2/97). The proposed food standard to regulate transgenic foods only
requires assessment and registration by the Australia NZ Food Authority
(ANZFA) before they go on sale. This offers dangerously little protection.

L-Tryptophan, a food supplement made by genetically engineered microbes in
1989, killed around fifty people and made thousands of others permanently
crippled. Yet under ANZFA's proposed standard that food could possibly be
registered and sold without a warning label!

Transgenic foods are new, so have no history of safe use, yet pre-market
human testing and post-market monitoring are not proposed. Government
promised an adverse reactions register, so you could report any
food-related illnesses, but this is not in the ANZFA proposal.

ANZFA focuses on similarities to existing foods, not the potentially
dangerous differences. If ANZFA judges a product "substantially equivalent"
to an existing food - not identical or the same - it may be fast-tracked
into the food supply.

There is no general requirement to label, so your right to know and choose
is taken away. Genetically engineered foods (eg. long-life, false-fresh
tomatoes; pork with human genes) or foods with more than 5% transgenics
(eg. an apricot pie; tofu) may be labelled. But while the ingredients list
will say (genetically altered), the label can also say 'genetically
enhanced, improved or augmented', even where quality and safety are
reduced. For example, herbicide tolerant soyabeans, with more chemical
residues, will soon be in 60% of all processed foods, benefiting American
farmers but harming Australians.

Call ANZFA on (616) 271.2222 for your copy of their draft standard, out for
comment until April 3. Also have your say to your state Health Minister and
the Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge. The Council of Health
Ministers will ultimately decide on the rules for genetically engineered

Yours sincerely,

Bob Phelps

Bob Phelps
Australian GeneEthics Network
c/- ACF 340 Gore Street, Fitzroy. 3065 Australia
Tel: (03) 9416.2222 Fax: (03) 9416.0767 {Int Code (613)}
WWW:  (under construction)