Dairy giant Fonterra has said that it has asked New Zealand’s High Court to strike out the claims made by biotechnology company A2 Corporation in relation to milk and Fonterra’s research.

A2 Corp, which was formed in early 2000 to pursue commercial opportunities arising from studies suggesting beta-casein A1 protein could cause diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, has accused Fonterra of “misleading and deceptive” conduct regarding the protein. A2 has also alleged that Fonterra has suppressed research linking A1 milk, containing the protein beta casein A1, to autism, schizophrenia, diabetes and heart disease.

Fonterra’s chief technology officer, Dr Chris Mallett, said that food safety regulators were the appropriate statutory authorities to deal with the issues raised by A2 Corporation and, in any event, Fonterra did not believe there was any foundation for the claims made by A2 Corporation.

“Fonterra is not aware of any food regulatory authority in the world that has expressed any concern with normal everyday milk in the manner raised by this biotechnology company,” Mallett said.

According to Mallett, there is no valid scientific evidence currently available to Fonterra, published or otherwise, that milk with the A1 beta-casein causes the negative health effects claimed by A2 Corporation.

“Fonterra believes A2 Corporation’s claims are irresponsible because they may result in people removing normal milk from their diet to the detriment of their overall health and well being,” he said.

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He also said that Fonterra had conducted itself in a transparent and open manner when dealing with this issue.

“We initiated research when these claims were first raised. All the research on this issue that Fonterra has completed has been published in respected medical or scientific journals, after other scientists who are experts in the area have subjected it to review,” Mallett concluded.