In May of this year, molecular biologist Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), Dr Judy Carman, adjunct associate professor at Flinders University (Adelaide) and Sara Agapito-Tenfen (from Santa Catarina Univeristy in Brazil) published a study, which found that a form of genetic engineering called RNA Interference that silences or suppresses genes meant for target species, such as pests to aid in agriculture could, in fact, affect other organisms including people.They called for more rigorous testing as the current methods of safety assessment were proven to be insufficient according to their findings.
Their study was rebuffed by FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), the Science Media Centre of New Zealand and numerous scientists and deemed completely safe.
Following the dismissal of the paper, two researchers from the US Department of Agriculture produced their own study that confirms the conclusions that the technologies used for this genetic engineering can affect genes in other plants, animals and people. The dangers are not being taken into account by some regulators and much more rigorous testing needs to be put in place prior to any release into our food system.
FSANZ have responsibility in this matter but so does the OGTR (Office of Gene Technology Regulator of the Australian Government):” The object of the Gene Technology Act 2000 “is to protect the health and safety of people, and the environment, by identifying risks posed by or as a result of gene technology, and by managing those risks through regulating certain dealings with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)”.
Our health and the environment are obviously being overlooked and this needs to be brought into the light.
It will be very interesting to see the reaction from the Science Media Centre, FSANZ and the numerous scientists who so vehemently supported the dismissal of this study. Watch this space…