GM crops such as corn, sugar beet, cotton and canola do not pose a safety threat to consumers or the environment, according to the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA), who today backed the sale of such crops to consumers.

Marion Healy, a chief scientist with ANZFA, revealed that the four crops, all of which were resistant to herbicides, were studied for their nutritional values, increased allergens and toxicity. "All the GM foods we have looked at to date have all the benefits of the conventional foods and no disadvantages," he said.

The GM in question was produced by Aventis, but is not the same as the StarLink variety that caused the US fiasco.

The four products are now proposed for release onto the supermarket shelves, subject to public submission, which will be accepted until the end of April. Once released they will join just three other approved products in Australia and may be sold without warning labels until the end of this years because of delays in labelling law.