Campaign group GE-Free New Zealand is considering taking legal action against regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Minister for Food Safety for the approval of foods containing genetically-modified golden rice to be sold in the country.
Towards the end of last year, FSANZ had approved the application by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which cultivated the GR2E rice.
Last month, GE-Free NZ urged the minister, Damien O’Connor, to urge FSANZ to review their approval.
According to the IRRI, the GR2E rice was developed to express elevated levels of provitamin A (mainly β- carotene) in its rice endosperm, which is converted in the body to vitamin A.
The IRRI 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 deciency and where 30–70% of energy intake is derived from rice.
GE-Free NZ has since met the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to raise concerns about what it says is “the total absence of data” relating to safety of the GM rice for consumers. However, MPI staff responded that any concern would have to be addressed to the minister himself, as their assessment had been done.
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