3News.co.nz (Link) - Jonny Talbot (June 9, 2011)
Toxins from genetically engineered foods have been found in the blood of pregnant woman and foetuses, according to new research from Canada.
Research from the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec found traces of Bt toxin Cry 1 - an insecticide genetically engineered into GE food crops such as maize and potatoes – in pregnant women’s blood.
These findings have prompted the Soil and Health Association of New Zealand, which opposes GE derivatives in food, to call for a rethink on GE derivative based foods.
Association spokesperson Steffan Browning said the Government could remedy the situation by “reassessing or withdrawing the approximately seventy GE food lines approved for use in the New Zealand food supply.”
Greenpeace Australia, GE spokesperson Laura Kelly agrees and says she is worried by the findings.
“When fed to rats, these Bt toxins damaged the test animal’s livers and kidneys. It is outrageous that we don’t know what impact this will have on their development,” she says.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) principal advisor on toxicology John Reeve says people should not be concerned by the findings.
“The research findings do not give rise to any concerns. The pesticides discussed have no effects on mammals, including humans, at levels far higher than likely to be found in food,” he says.
“The effects are only seen at extremely high doses as each of the pesticides is of very low toxicity to humans.”
Soil and Health are calling for improved labelling on foods which contain ingredients such as genetically-engineered maize.
“There are very few foods able to be correctly identified in food stores, although GE material is now in very many processed food items” says Mr Browning.
But Mr Reeve says MAF’s present labelling system - regulated by the Australian Food Standards Code - provides consumers with adequate information.
“The code already requires that foods with genetically modified material, with altered characteristics, have a statement ‘genetically modified’ in conjunction with the name of the modified material on the label,” he says.
Mr Reeve says MAF are aware of the research and there is no need to change the present regulations. †