By Grant Jacobs 09/04/2018

New Zealanders and Australians might like to contribute (last-minute!*) submissions to revise Food Standards Australia and New Zealand’s code for controlling new food varieties,

FSANZ is seeking input from the community on whether food derived using new breeding techniques (NBTs) should be captured for pre-market approval under the Code, and whether the definitions for ‘food produced using gene technology’ and ‘gene technology’ should be changed to improve clarity.

You’ll want to read the consulting paper that comes with this call for submissions.

Comments and suggestions welcome

I’ll add my thoughts on the need to revise the code tonight, and perhaps an outline of what I might submit. In the meantime I can at least let readers know of the call for submissions.**

Late last year I offered an outline of things to consider with current ‘GMOs’. My thoughts and submission (see below) will likely use this as their basis.

You’re welcome to make suggestions in the comments below. Please keep the polite. In particular ‘attacking’ me because your views are different isn’t helpful! (You’re best to make them in the comments below if you’ll like me to take your thoughts into account.)

Why revise the code for controlling new food varieties?

A key issue is that by focusing on ‘breeding’ technologies, good new varieties are being blocked. This is not a case of avoiding risk. An alternative is to focus on each new variety on it’s own merits, it’s traits, the nature of that plant, and how it’s managed in the field, and so on. They’re the things related to risk.

Outline of submission – thoughts welcome

I’ll add a top-of-my-head outline of what I might submit tonight; it will change, knowing how things go. In the meantime, I’ll like the call for submissions to be more widely-known. Suggestions are welcome; best to read my earlier list of things to consider first.

Earlier articles on GMOs on Code for life

To find other’s writing on this topic, return to the Sciblogs homepage, click the magnifying glass symbol at the top-right, enter ‘GMO’, and press return.

Kumara are transgenic (Transgenes occur in nature too.)

Genetic modification now accepted by most New Zealanders (A survey indicates New Zealanders now accept GM food as safe.)

GMOs and the plants we eat: neither are “natural” (An essay on food.)

Green Party GM policy and discussion about GE or GMOs (The Green Party should revise their stance on GM.)

In a demon-haunted world (Not about GM, but unfortunately relevant. A tribute to Sagan, sorely needed in these times.)

Is GM corn really different to non-GM corn? (Reporting other’s objections to one controversy.)

Séralini GMO maize and Roundup study republished with no scientific peer review (One of the ‘unorthodox’ researchers opposing GMOs re-publishes a retracted paper with no fresh peer-review.)

Christmas trees weedy and not (The proposed project that the court case shut down – despite EPA approval, and that it didn’t involve introducing new genes. Wilding pines are a curse in New Zealand.)

Carrots for my neighbour (A short story of sorts.)

New Zealand political spokesperson for GE and more endorses homeopathy for Ebola (What can we say. Some people are… interesting. He re-asserted this claim in his valedictory speech.)

Changing the GMO regulations – the ministry options (The options that set the current legislation.)

Gene editing and GMOs in NZ, part one (A short series; parts two and three are linked at the start.)

GMOs and legislation: useful suggestions for New Zealand in British report (A summary of a large UK report. Not a short read!)

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on GMO legislation (Lighter take on the previous article.)


* The deadline has now been pushed back a week until April 18th 2018 (see my comment after post). On a tangential note I have to admit I hate—with a vengeance!—how notifications of these submission calls are so hard to discover. Surely there must be a simple way to have them sent to you without having the circular problem of knowing what sites to “follow” in order to receive them. (For parliamentary submissions, I’ve tried the government notifications tools; my experience was that it seemed to want to send (spam!) me everything BUT what I wanted!)

** I’ll write separately on some of these later, I hope. One example would be the issue of ‘genes from other species’.

Featured image

Transgenic C5 plums contain a gene that makes them resistant to plum pox virus. Public domain, source wikimedia.

0 Responses to “New code for controlling new food varieties (FASNZ; GMO, or not)”

  • Thanks for this alert Grant. It certainly can be difficult to find these opportunities for submission. It’s all a bit Hitchhikers Guide-ish at times. I’ll send the notice around.

    To your substantive point:
    “A key issue is that by focusing on ‘breeding’ technologies, good new varieties are being blocked. This is not a case of avoiding risk. An alternative is to focus on each new variety on it’s own merits, it’s traits, the nature of that plant, and how it’s managed in the field, and so on. They’re the things related to risk.”

    The counter-argument is that ‘breeding’ technologies are indeed an important and policy-relevant way of differentiating between plants. A useful screen. This is partly because of the long-tail risk of out-breeding once GMOs are cultivated in the open.

    However in the context of this review the issue is much more narrow: whether or not GMOs should be treated as if they were not GMOs from a food safety perspective. While framed as a continuum (“some foods produced using NBTs can be similar to foods that have been produced using conventional methods of plant and animal breeding that do not involve gene
    technology”) the question being posed is whether to avoid *any* special conditions for *any* GMO irrespective of the degree of similarity.

  • A couple of quick notes.

    1. The consulting period has been extended, from the consultation page:

    The period for comment on our consultation paper has been extended and now closes 19 April 2018.

    2. John’s description of the purpose in the previous comment isn’t as FSANZ describe it on the consultation page. The purpose given there is to clarify how techniques developed since the rule was introduced* should be treated.

    (*About 20 years ago. IMHO, it would be an appropriate juncture to redress the entire thing – 20 years is a long time to leave something like this static, esp. as ‘concerns’ over GMOs have moved on.)

    3. I may redress these and other points in a new post, rather than edit this one as I originally planned. More on that later.