PO Box 13402
Wellington, New Zealand

GE-Free New Zealand

in food and environment (RAGE Inc.)


FSANZ Fails Responsibility for 'Duty of Care' as Untested GM Bananas Gets Go-Ahead

healthyThe Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has recommended that A1274 genetically engineered bananas be allowed into the food chain, even though FSANZ has not required evidence of the safety of the bananas or testing in feeding trials.

The approval is in tandem with the Office of the Gene Regulator (Australia) allowing planting of the bananas if there is an outbreak of the fungus that causes the soil borne Panama Disease. [1]

The plants won't actually be grown or eaten immediately, but are being rubber-stamped for future rollout. Approvals of GM bananas is of great concern to the local Banana industry developing in New Zealand where there is no soil borne Panama disease. Growers in other countries with diverse varieties do not have the vulnerability that mono-culture has created for the Australian industry.

Food safety is a priority for consumers and so safety-testing is key to maintaining trust. Bananas are a first baby food and the lack of any safety will have serious implication for the infant.

"If FSANZ won't test the safety of the GM bananas it will shift liability to producers and food manufacturers to ensure the product is safe, " said Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-free NZ (in food and environment).

"Baby food manufacturers, like Heinz Watties, must ensure they exclude the GM bananas if they come on the market, and the industry should conduct it's own research to show the food is safe for infants."

The principle responsibility for FSANZ is to protect consumer safety, provide information and be transparent and unbiased in their assessments. [2]

However, using the theory of 'substantial equivalence' every single GM food application FSANZ have received has been approved. FSANZ have consistently dismissed or rejected any public safety concerns, even when backed by peer reviewed published evidence.

It is deliberately misleading to say that FSANZ have never seen evidence of problems from the GM banana when it is eaten.

"As the plants have not been grown or tested there can be no evidence of safety. FSANZ has been negligible when carrying out its responsibility for 'Duty of Care'," said Claire Bleakley, GE-Free NZ president.

"FSANZ have approved a food that does not meet their legislative responsibilities and could potentially be harmful or cause allergies in consumers. The Ministerial Forum must require that before they approve GM bananas entry into the food chain they have seen consumer evidence of safety, conducted in long term studies"

Ingredients made from the GM bananas will only be labelled if they contain over 1% DNA. GE bananas will escape labelling as GE/bioengineered if it is sold for immediate consumption; from food premises and vending vehicles, including restaurants, take aways, caterers, and self-catering institutions. [3]

This then means that any potential adverse effects from the GM Banana will not be able to be traced to the GE banana or information on how to treat a reaction for emergency departments or doctors.

The recommendation to allow the GM banana will go to the Ministerial Forum for sign off. [4]

People have 40 days to write to their Ministers to raise concerns they may have over the absence of safety data and the priority for testing to prevent any threat to health from the GE bananas. [5]

References -

[1] A1274 GM Banana Approval Report https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/sites/default/files/2024-02/A1274%20Approval%20report.pdf

[2] FSANZ -s3 Object of the Act https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2004A04193/latest/text

[3] Standard 1.5.2 Food produced using gene technology https://www.legislation.gov.au/F2015L00404/2016-03-01/text

[4] Contact Secretariat https://www.foodregulation.gov.au/activities-committees/secretariat

[5] Food Ministers meeting Members https://www.foodregulation.gov.au/activities-committees/food-ministers-meeting/members


Jon Carapiet - Spokesman GE Free NZ- 0210507681

Claire Bleakley - President GE Free NZ - 027 348 6731