Campaign group GE Free NZ wants regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to review its draft approval for Golden Rice, which is genetically modified to produce beta-carotene.
Golden rice (or GR2E) was cultivated by the humanitarian organisation International Rice Research Institute to mitigate vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.
FSANZ recently recommended that products containing traces of golden rice should be able to be sold in Australia and New Zealand.
However, Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ, questioned the efficacy of the product and urged the Minister for Food Safety Damien O’Connor to ask FSANZ to review the draft.
“As this rice is only being approved to prevent trade disruption, we ask the Minister to call for a review of the GM rice, and insist on comprehensive 90-day feeding trials that should have been provided before the approval was made.”
The Institute wants the GR2E rice to be cultivated for humanitarian purposes in developing countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines which are at high risk of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and where 30– 70% of energy intake is derived from rice.
While acknowledging that GR2E rice will not solve the issue of population-based VAD for these countries, it believes it can be a major part of an overarching strategy to reduce deficiency.
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