Food Standards Australia New Zealand has called for submissions from industry and the public an application to change the Food Standards Code for the countries to allow food derived from genetically modified lucerne.
Also known as alfalfa, lucerne is a flowering plant that is used as an important forage crop and Monstanto, which manufactures the Roundup Ready genetically modified variety of lucerne, petitioned FSANZ on the move.
GM lucerne was approved by the USDA in 2005 for widescale cultivation. In the same year it was assessed and approved for human food in Canada and Mexico, and in Japan the following year.
‘Safe for consumption’
Food produced from Roundup-ready corn, soybean, canola and sugar beet, which all contain the same modified gene as GM lucerne, have already been approved as safe for consumption by FSANZ.
If it is approved for human consumption, all products containing GM must be labelled as genetically modified in accordance with the Australia New Zealand Food Safety Code.
FSANZ chief executive Steve McCutcheon said FSANZ had assessed the application.
“Growers will be able to harvest this lucerne line later than conventional lucerne and thus benefit from improved yields of forage for their grazing animals,” he said.
He added that the safety assessment has identified no public health and safety concerns for consumers, and invited government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community to provide their input on the proposal.
The food standards body also called for submissions on a proposed primary production and processing standard for meat.
McCutcheon said the proposed standard provides a national “whole of chain” approach to food safety regulation of meat products.
“The standard recognises that existing state and territory laws already cover things such as animal feed and water, traceability and processing activities,” he said.
“What the proposed new standard will do is bring all these things under the one umbrella so that if there is a food incident, regulators will be better placed to investigate food safety matters through the entire meat supply chain.
“Having this ability provides the public and industry with assurance that the regulator can investigate, where appropriate, food safety matters at any point in the meat supply chain.”
The closing date for submissions on the lucerne issue is November 19, while those for the meat processing standard is December 3.