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Simplot seeks to sell GM potato products in New Zealand and AustraliaJR Simplot has applied at FSANZ for approval to export genetically modified potato products into Australia and New Zealand. It is unclear what type of products this pertains to.
Simplot is not asking to export GM potato tubers, because no tubers of any sort can be exported to (Australia or) New Zealand.
Nevertheless, the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand has opposed the application, saying already a large number of genetically engineered foods are on sale in New Zealand, but consumers do not know because labelling laws mean that almost all GE ingredients do not have to be listed on the packaging.
When asked what the products were, FSANZ said:
"the only food derived from the potato lines that could be imported includes processed foods such as frozen par-cooked chips/fries, potato crisps, potato starch and alcohol."
It did not say which of these products the company might want to export, nor the name of any importer which might want to bring them in. It also said it did not have to name the brand under which they might be sold.
“FSANZ considers only the safety of a food product entering the food supply. Information on who is involved in the processing of a food product is not required. Information on importing companies is not required.”
Simplot Australia owns the rights to the Birds Eye brand in Australia and New Zealand, and its range includes frozen vegetables, potatoes, fish and snack foods.
JR Simplot said the potatoes that were genetically modified in the US were three common potato varieties - Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic. The potatoes have been genetically engineered to reduce bruising, to reduce acrylamide formed during cooking, and to protect the potatoes from a late blight. These varieties have been introduced as "Innate Potatoes" in the United States
A FSANZ safety assessment on the GE potato application had not identified any public health and safety issues.
FSANZ said its approach to assessing the safety of GM food was based on core principles developed almost 20 years ago and published as guidelines by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
“It is widely adopted and implemented around the world..”
“While philosophical opposition to the technology remains, consumers can be confident that GM foods assessed under the protocol and approved for food use are as safe as their conventional counterparts.”
Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge said if consumers were in doubt they should eat fresh potatoes, which were all grown in New Zealand and were not genetically engineered.
Otherwise they should check labels on crisps and frozen french fries, and buy only New Zealand made.
Last year New Zealand exported 99,000 tonnes of potato products and imported 14,500 tonnes.
FSANZ said it was calling for submissions over the application, which would close on Friday.
Publication date: 7/7/2017
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