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INTERNATIONAL

FSANZ assesses plea on GR2E rice or golden rice and approves it as safe
Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), in a recent report, has notified food derived from rice line GR2E, genetically modified to produce provitamin A carotenoids, especially beta carotene, in the grain, to be safe. The assessment was carried out by FSANZ in response to an application made by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to seek approval for the said rice line also known as golden rice.

Earlier, following the appeal by IRRI, FSANZ sought submissions on a draft variation and published an associated report. The body received 33 submissions. It approved the draft variation on December 6, 2017. The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation was notified of FSANZ’s decision on December 19, 2017.

IRRI had requested a variation to Schedule 26 in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) to include food from a new GM rice (Oryza sativa) line, GR2E. This rice line has been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene (the predominant form of provitamin A) and other minor provitamin A carotenoids in the endosperm of the rice grain.

According to FSANZ, GR2E is a new food crop designed to mitigate vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. It is not intended to be used in the Australian or New Zealand food supplies. Approving this crop will prevent trade disruption should GR2E be inadvertently present in imported shipments of milled rice.

The primary objective of FSANZ in developing or varying a food regulatory measure, as stated in Section 18 of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (FSANZ Act), is the protection of public health and safety. Accordingly, the safety assessment is a central part of considering an application.

As per the regulator, based on the data provided in the application, and other available information, food derived from line GR2E is considered to be as safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional rice cultivars. The FSANZ Board has approved the draft variation to Schedule 26 (including permission for food derived from provitamin A rice line GR2E) and Standard 1.5.2 (a consequential amendment).
 
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