Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) confirmed last week that it received an application from Syngenta Seeds, seeking approval for food derived from a corn line genetically modified for protection against insect pests.
The corn is intended for cultivation in the US and Canada, not in Australia and New Zealand. Once approved and commercialised, Syngenta intends to use corn line 5307 in conventional breeding with other corns.
Lydia Buchtmann, a spokesperson for FSANZ, told FoodNavigator-Asia that the regulator has reviewed the application and is now calling for comments from government agencies, public health professionals, and industry on it.
Buchtmann pointed out that FSANZ has had a food standard in place since 1999 that requires any GM food to undergo a rigorous safety assessment before it can be sold in Australia and New Zealand.
“To date we have assessed and approved 50 GM foods including 19 GM corns. Only GM canola and cottonseed are grown in Australia, no GM cops are grown in NZ. Most GM ingredients are imported from North America,” she disclosed.
Buchtmann said that the safety assessment is undertaken in accordance with guidelines developed by organizations such as of the Organisation for Economic Food and Agriculture Organization and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
No ill effects?
“FSANZ conducts a thorough safety assessment that ensures that any approved GM foods are as safe and nutritious as comparable conventional foods already in the Australian and New Zealand food supply,” she said.
Buchtmann remarked that GM foods have been eaten, especially in North American countries where they are widely grown, for more than 15 years with no recorded ill effect.
According to the FSANZ, the period for submissions closes on 18 January next years, post which the regulator would take a decision on whether to amend the Food Standards Code to allow food derived from this said corn line.