GM label call blasted

20 Apr, 2011 09:14 AM
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A SENATE hearing has been told that opposition to genetically modified (GM) crops is being driven by “a non-scientific, fact-free, alarmist and scaremongering” minority in the community.

The Senate Community Affairs Committee is investigating proposed legislative amendments that would compel food producers, manufacturers and distributors to label food for presence of GM materials.

But Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) chief executive, Steve McCutcheon, said the legislation was looking to establish a labelling standard inconsistent with existing arrangements and for a purpose unrelated to food safety.

FSANZ did not approve food items, including GM foods, that were unsafe, and it was already mandatory for GM food labelling so shoppers could make informed choices.

But GMs were not labelled for safety reasons, because “the safety of those products is already approved”.

CropLife Australia chief executive, Matthew Cossey, whose organisation represents the Australian agricultural chemical and biotechnology sector, said GMs were already subject to rigorous scientific analysis, by local regulatory authorities and internationally.

Asked by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon if he thought it was irrational for consumers to want to know if their food was GM or approved GM, Mr Cossey slammed the anti-GM campaign.

“I believe senator that if you look at all the agreed evidence, that in fact any generation of concern over approved GM in food products is driven by a non-scientific, fact-free, alarmist and scaremongering section of the community,” he said.

“I believe it is a minority and I’m not too sure that it serves the public good or a public policy good, particularly considering the broader importance of food labelling.

“We support food labelling and if it’s an approved GM we would say that the entire regulatory regime from beginning of research through to approval to include the food chain means it is no longer an issue of mandatory requirement.”

Mr Cossey said unnecessary regulation linked to “equally unnecessary cost burden” was a potential threat to the agricultural technology’s success.

“Science has established there is no health or safety risk differential between approved GM and non-GM crops,” he said.

“However, already the current regulations in Australia impose a much greater level of regulatory burden on the industry.”

Senator Xenophon said he was concerned there was a lot of buck passing on GM risk management.

FSANZ set standards, then it was left to the States to enforce those standards and interpret them.

“What is wrong with having some uniform protocols for interpretation of unintentional release of GM material?” he asked.

“Farmers deserve a choice to grow GMs and consumers deserve a choice if they want to eat GMOs.”

The Australian Food and Grocery Council claimed the bill proposed an “unprecedented, costly,

and impractical approach” to label for an occasional presence of components at very low levels, with “no public health implications, and of only passing interest to most consumers”.

However, Greenpeace, represented via teleconference by its GM wheat campaigner, Claire Parfitt, told the inquiry it wanted regulatory loopholes tightened so highly processed and other foods could be identified for any GM presence.

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FarmOnline National News Bureau, Parliament House, CanberraSource: http://www.farmonline.com.au
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READER COMMENTS

holisticmick
20/04/2011 9:48:46 AM

Talk about fact free information, years ago my two daughters went on a school excursion to CSIRO, which most primary school age students in NSW do. At the a presentation on GM they were given a pro GM lecture, no cons at all and at the end were asked to complete a survey of whether they thought we should have GM. my girls countered with some of the cons and the whole class tick no to GM. what chance do city Kids have with this blatant propoganda. I always wondered before where they got the approval % of GM from customers. Now I know, disgusting that this is allowed to happen. Some cons just search "soybeans gmo hamster" for some very disturbing Russian research.
bazza
20/04/2011 11:22:17 AM

The GM lobby groups have not provided research papers on intergenerational feed trials using GM products requested by me. Im not sure if this is because they dont have them or if they indicate adverse outcomes they dont want exposed. FSANZ when asked for data to support their position say they rely on the the office of gene technology for approval not on research data. The office of gene technology also does not supply data supporting their position that GM foods are free of risk, they refer you to the GM companies or lobby groups. My belief is that if no one is able to supply the data they claim exists they are either false claims or they are manipulated results which can be readily disproved. I make an open request for access to this information in the interests of better understanding and decision making.
Rob
20/04/2011 11:55:26 AM

Exactly right, the farmer needs to have a choice to grow GM crops or not, and more importanly the consumer must have a choice whether to buy them or not.
Pro Freedom
20/04/2011 1:49:47 PM

"However, Greenpeace, represented via teleconference by its GM wheat campaigner, Claire Parfitt, told the inquiry it wanted regulatory loopholes tightened so highly processed and other foods could be identified for any GM presence. " Greenpeace will tie all of society up in knots so that nothing happens. They're never happy with any sensible labeling scheme. Farmers had better think hard before joining up with this lot.
Hebe
20/04/2011 2:48:26 PM

This is all part of an elaborate con by the Pro GM community to shove GM crops onto our farm lands and down our throats. If they think we are going to give up because they refuse to accept independant science showing that there are real health and safety concerns relating to GM food then they are mistaken. Over 90% of consumers want GM foods clearly labelled, as the EU has enjoyed for the past decade! Why should we be kept in the dark to allow this obsolete phoney science to control our farms and food? Transparent GM labelling for all GM derived foods...yes, it is possible and yes, we should have access to it!
blahblah
20/04/2011 4:04:32 PM

GM is already in use for feeds all over europe. GM is one of the magic bullets to improve yields, which will be needed to stave off the coming food crisis.
jan
20/04/2011 4:22:01 PM

The people need the right to know and the ability to choose - it is not the right of governments to take our choice away
ggwagga
20/04/2011 6:11:12 PM

If GMOs are so wonderful and so safe, then why not promote them over and above all other food with a clear GM label? But they cannot and don’t want them to be differentiated or segregated, they just want them to contaminate the food chain. I ask Mr Cossey to show all of us the independent, long term, rigorous scientific analysis that clearly demonstrates GMOs as safe, sustainable and a benefit to farmers and consumers. He cannot because GMOs fail on all counts. There are a multitude of independent studies by eminent scientists that clearly demonstrate GMOs pose significant threats to individuals health, the environment and to the social and economic fabric of rural communities.
judyanne
20/04/2011 6:35:38 PM

Everybody I talk to does NOT want GM food. Funny, I haven't yet met anyone who actually wants it! We all know the deal, GM crops will contaminate non GM farms & keep doing it until it won't be viable any longer to be a conventional or organic farmer. The deal that was put on the table when GM crops were approved was that everyone will have choice & farmers can still be non GM. Well, now that farms have been contaminated, the pro GM mob want to raise the tolerance levels of GM for organic farms. How dare they! Choice is choice, not choice with conditions! I say get GM out of our country altogether. The approval process for GM food was flawed from the very start, back in the 90s in USA. It's on that flawed premise that they are still approved.
Judyanne
20/04/2011 6:49:09 PM

It isn't just Greenpeace who want proper labelling of GM food. It's the people who don't want to buy it. If we don't want it we shouldn't be forced to have it. Anyway, the current labelling is not good enough. We can't buy things like canola oil or soy as it may be GM. Any highly processed food is unlabelled. Not good enough.
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