WEST Australian Liberal Agricultural Region MLC Jim Chown said any expenditure of public funds must be accountable to taxpayers, but the $92,000 awarded for Dr Judy Carman’s research by the former Labor government failed to meet that criteria.
Mr Chown said the research was funded in 2007 and now showed test results from pigs fed GM soy and corn diets in the US - crop types not grown in Australia - over a five-month period.
The former Dalwallinu grain farmer said the research was published in an obscure organic journal and suggestions it had also been thoroughly peer reviewed were “a stretch of the imagination”.
Mr Chown expressed concern the GM feeding study also failed to document what control measures were put in place to monitor the quality and digestibility of the food substances given to the trialled pigs, to ensure the diet was pure.
“The $92,000 spent by the WA Labor government will be discounted entirely by scientific communities and food regulators in this country,” he said.
“In the past 15 years, billions of GM meals have been eaten by world populations and there’s not one single case, recorded by credible experts, of GM having caused any harm or population at large.
“I think the WA Labor party, through an ambition to discredit GM foods, have been found wanting on this issue.
“They spent tens of thousands of dollars in public money to try and disprove the safety of GMs but that money has not been spent appropriately.
“Questions have to be asked why the ALP didn’t pursue proper accountability measures, like those used for other scientific research projects.”
Mr Chown said he believed a parliamentary inquiry was warranted into the seven-year delay to produce “two pieces of paper making outlandish statements on GMs with little science behind them”.
He said the appropriate committee to conduct an inquiry into public expenditure, was the Legislative Council’s joint standing committee on public administration, made up of cross-party members.
The committee would be empowered to call witnesses to appear and produce documents, with penalties for failing to obey summons, and anyone found misleading the committee may be in contempt of Parliament and subject to reprimand, fine or potential imprisonment.
Mr Chown said FSANZ and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator were the appropriate organisations in Australia to conduct safety assessments on GM foods and crops.
He said rather than “scare campaigns” of anti-GM advocates, the general public needed to start listening “very carefully” to what independent science-based groups said about the proper safety and regulation of GM crops.