The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) today released two reports for public comment concerning applications to approve the irradiation of tropical fruits and the sale of genetically modified corn.

Both the reports are initial assessment reports, which provide details of the applications and some of the options available to ANZFA.

ANZFA' s Managing Director Ian Lindenmayer said the public consultation process is a vital part of the regulation process for food.

' The process provides part of the checks and balances in food regulation which can only come from a transparent and inclusive system,' Mr Lindenmayer said.

I must thank all individuals, groups and organisations who have contributed to the food regulation process over the years, many of whom have neither the resources nor the expertise available to other sectors of society.   Their contribution is appreciated.'

Irradiation of tropical fruits (A443) - submissions by 31 October 2001 [PDF]

The company Surebeam Australia Pty Ltd has applied for permission to irradiate the tropical fruits breadfruit, carambola, custard apple, litchi, longan, mango, mangosteen, papaya and rambutan as a treatment against fruit fly and other quarantine pests. This would be an alternative treatment to the existing techniques, such as the use of chemicals.

To gain approval, the company will need to establish that irradiation at the levels proposed, in relation to the selected tropical fruits, would result in food that is safe and nutritionally adequate.   ANZFA seeks comments on the costs or benefits or, more broadly, the impacts of this application to consumers, business and government.

It should be noted that, on 13 September 2001, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council approved the use of irradiation for herbs, spices and herbal infusions.

Genetically modified corn (A446) - submissions by 31 October 2001 [PDF]

ANZFA has received an application for the approval of a variety of corn which has been genetically modified to withstand insect attack and to tolerate the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium.   This is one of 22 applications received to date for the approval of GM foods; 12 have already been approved for sale by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council.

ANZFA will conduct a safety assessment on the GM corn which will involve an examination of the genetic modification itself and its stability over several generations, the toxicity and allergenicity potential of the new gene, as well as nutritional values of the GM corn compared to the conventionally-bred corn.

This GM corn is not currently in the marketplace.   Approval for sale will only be recommended if the GM corn is found to be at least as safe as its conventionally produced counterpart.   Evidence-based submissions on the benefits or disadvantages of this GM corn entering the food supply are invited.

Copies of Applications A443 and A446 can be obtained from the ANZFA website on www.anzfa.gov.au or www.anzfa.govt.nz.   Alternatively, hard-copy versions are available from ANZFA in Australia on phone 02 6271 2222 or in New Zealand on 04 473 9942.