Previously known as Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics PSRGNZ - Charitable Trust
As required under the new 2005 Charities Act, PSGR has reregistered as a charitable trust.

9 February 2005

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Submission on Application A525
Food derived from Herbicide-tolerant Sugar Beet H7-1: to permit the use in food of sugar beet genetically modified to provide resistance to glyphosate.

PSRG urges Food Standards Australia New Zealand to reject the above application. Sugar beet products processed in Australia could be supplied to markets in New Zealand and New Zealanders have the right to expect regulatory authorities to adopt a cautious approach to food safety and health considerations. On the grounds of human health and safety, PSRG believes that acceptance of this application is not warranted.

(1) That little or no research has been carried out on the health effects of regular ingestion of glyphosate.
(2) That the main product of sugar beet – sugar - would add considerably to the agri-chemical content of the human food supply. It would potentially affect every consumer.
(2a) That sugar products are widely used in the production of processed foods – possibly as high as 70 percent - and would therefore be widely consumed on a daily basis in multiple food products.
(3) That agricultural chemicals have been linked to various cancers and other health risks. That those with challenged immune systems, the elderly, children and babies are especially vulnerable.
(4) That there have been no independent, long-term, peer-reviewed studies proving that the ingestion of any transgenic foods are safe for humankind. Nor has the US population – being the principle country releasing untested, unlabelled genetically engineered foods over a period of years - been monitored for any resulting effects of ingesting multiple transgenic foods on a continuous, daily, long-term basis. That there has been no independent scientific study to see if there is a link or not between the two- to ten-fold increase in food-borne illnesses in the US (1994 to 1999) and the commercial release of transgenic crops there from the mid 1990s onwards. In Scandinavia, where genetically engineered foods have not been widely allowed in the food chain, the same statistics have remained virtually static. Nor has the US evaluated rates for cancers or other statistically monitored health problems since the introduction of genetically engineered foods.

(5) That allowing agri-chemicals - whether as part of the genetic engineering technology process or whether applied externally - or genetically engineered foods banned by other countries, New Zealand could adversely affect food exports. Sugar products would appear in a wide range of products.

(6) That there is the potential for the waste material of this product to contribute to animal feed. That with the distribution of genetically engineered corn to US farms – following the rejection of genetically engineered corn by exports markets in Europe – brought reported adverse affects on stock. That markets are rejecting meat and meat products produced from animals that have consumed genetically engineered organisms.

PSRG supports a zero-tolerance level for genetically engineering organisms in foodstuffs. This is technically achievable.
PSRG supports an Identity Preservation traceability system being in place on all foodstuffs to ensure that labelling accurately reflects the presence or absence of food or food ingredients produced using genetic engineering technology. Mandatory to IP traceability would facilitate quality control, the verification of labelling claims, and the possible necessity of withdrawing products should unforeseen adverse effects to human health or the environment occur. It will also facilitate the monitoring of potential effects that genetically engineered organisms could have on human and animal health and the New Zealand environment.
PSRG supports mandatory fully detailed, accurate Country of Origin labelling for all packaged and unpackaged meat, fish, dairy produce, fruit and vegetables, be they in a whole form or as part of an ingredient or additive, or used in the production thereof.
PSRG supports full public disclosure of all information gathered by, or required to be gathered by, government on residues in foods whether they be from pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, heavy metals, industrial chemicals or their by-products, veterinary medicines and any other contaminants, and that this material should be available at no cost to the public. Such information is crucial in allowing New Zealanders to make informed purchasing decisions, and to meet the basic human rights of New Zealanders to know where food purchases originate.

PSRG will not present this submission in person.

Jean Anderson
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics