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Parents unaware of baby food ingredients


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The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that tests of one of the most popular baby formulas on the market - S-26 Soy - show it contains genetically altered ingredients.Authorities say the product, made by the Pfizer-owned company Wyeth Nutrition, is safe to sell without labels revealing its GM levels, despite an absence of research on their long-term effects on infants.

S-26 Soy, often given to babies with lactose intolerance or those on vegetarian diets, returned positive results for GM in three recent tests.

Researchers found up to 0.2 per cent of GM soy and corn in the product, which is recommended for newborns up to infants older than 12 months.

A federal Health Department spokeswoman said the S-26 formula met regulatory requirements and was approved for sale in Australia.

Labelling laws allow a one per cent "unintentional" presence of GM, and a maker will not be prosecuted if it can prove it ordered non-GM foods from suppliers.

This is the 10th time since 1998 that S-26 Soy has tested positive in international tests for GM.

Greenpeace Australia, which conducted two recent tests - a third was carried out by Channel Seven's Sunday Night program, which will air the results tonight - has urged the Government to take S-26 Soy off the shelves and force manufacturers to label all products containing GM foods.There have been no long-term studies on adults, let alone babies, of the health effects of eating GM foods.

But an ongoing Russian study had found they could damage liver, kidney and reproductive function in rats and hamsters and make them grow hair on their tongues, Greenpeace spokeswoman Julie Macken said.

"I reckon most mums are going to hit the roof when they find out how they've been hoodwinked with this stuff," she said. "Our main issue with this is that we think parents have a right to know, and companies are exploiting the labelling laws in Australia.

"Transnational companies such as Pfizer and others love Australia, because we've got labelling laws you can drive a truck through, which is great for their bottom line and bad for our babies."

Wyeth Nutrition issued a statement last week, stating: "Wyeth Nutrition takes the quality and safety of its products very seriously.

"We are concerned by the allegations made by Greenpeace regarding S-26 Soy and have contacted the organisation to request a copy of the test results in question.

"Wyeth Nutrition would welcome the opportunity to work with Greenpeace and relevant authorities to address the matter in detail."

Wyeth spokeswoman Yvonne Bowyer said it was not unusual to find traces of genetically modified substances in products containing soy because of the way the crop was grown.

Food labelling laws, including issues surrounding genetically manufactured products, are being reviewed by a Federal Government panel.

Sept. 26, 2010