Greens mull rethink on GM crop policy

05 Jan, 2016 06:52 AM
Greens leader Richard Di Natale.
It would be silly to say that all genetic modification will lead to serious human health impacts.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

AUSTRALIAN Greens leader Richard Di Natale says his party is considering a policy change on genetically modified crops.

Despite genetically modified (GM) crops being grown across much of the country, the Greens hold a long-standing policy position opposing GM crop production that cites the precautionary principle amid fears about potential impacts on human health and the environment.

In contrast, the two main federal political parties have GM policies that back the scientific stances adopted by national regulatory agencies, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR).

However, Senator Di Natale said he had no personal objection to the science of genetically modified crops and his party was considering a potential policy change on the controversial farm technology.

He said the Greens’ goal to expand its voter base to 20 per cent within a decade also involved connecting more with rural and regional communities where they’ve experienced recent success through hard-nosed policies on land use and mining.

But its opposition to GMs has continually frustrated farming groups.

However, Senator Di Natale - whose medical career included practicing in regional areas - said he personally had no philosophical or ideological objections to the science of GM.

He said genetic modification was “something we’ve done for a long time in medicine”.

“I do not have a blanket objection to the use of genetically modified crops – I absolutely don’t – and it would be hypocritical for me to say that because I support the use of genetic modification in medicine,” he said.

However, he said his party remained concerned about several areas including the influences driving on-farm GM use, preserving the choice of the farmer, and the ownership of intellectual property for specific GM seed products.

Senator Di Natale said GM crop development should not be guided by agrochemical companies seeking to increase on-farm inputs like pesticides or herbicides, compared to alternative methods of increasing food productivity.

He said his party would also continue to argue for better GM food labels, which were critical to ensuring consumers remained informed when purchasing.

“I think it’s also important to recognise the science in this area is developing all the time and it’s absolutely right to be cautious,” he said.

“I think some of the concerns people have expressed are real risks (and) it’s a bit simplistic to say GMO’s are safe or they’re not safe.

“I don’t have a blanket objection to GMs but also I’m not saying - and would never say - we should press ahead with all GMO applications because I think that’s really dangerous.”

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


6/01/2016 12:46:04 PM

Why not go with those 36 European countries who have banned GMO crops, and put a ban on it here in Australia as well. The EU is trying very hard to keep GMO's off their soil. They know that GMO's are detrimental to human and animal HEALTH. We are only copying the USA, and believing the hogwash that Monsanto and Co. are telling us. Monsanto is only interested in Profits not HEALTH and that's a fact.
6/01/2016 12:50:42 PM

I'm guessing a deal has been done with the major parties as the science is definitely not settled in Aust and given the recent TPP agreement we have no legs to stand on. Instead of going to war with the boogeyman we have a done a deal with the devil and its time to try and best navigate our way around it? Dr D, do u realise the only clinical trial in Aust showed negative health effects from GM? or that company rights trump citizens rights in that their safety documentation, is neither publicly available nor peer reviewed? or that insulin is a single protein, not a GMO, or plant consisting of
6/01/2016 12:58:19 PM

many potential allergens, toxins etc? and that it is labelled as recombinant DNA?etc. Or that the American college of Physicians passed a resolution to label GMO? or that no epidemiological studies have been undertaken. The list goes on and on regarding the lack of safety measures and your position only confirms that gov't is but a mere puppet of vested interests and a society in decay. I wonder what would happen if one day Gov't didn't follow the rule book, better ask your friends at doctors without borders.
Bob Phelps
6/01/2016 4:26:14 PM

The Greens' commitment to the precautionary regulation of Genetic Manipulation (GM) techniques and their products is welcome and very crucial now. Several new GM techniques - so-called 'genome-editing' ome_editing - are being developed. With scant evidence, industry and science lobbyists claim they are safe, simple, precise and necessary, as they did for GM. Despite zero evidence of safety or efficacy outside laboratories, they want 'gene-editing' to be unregulated. The Greens have a key role in advocating for scientific, precautionary and stringent laws.
Captain Moonlight
7/01/2016 10:02:49 PM

It is depressing to see that characters like Bob Phelps are still trying to stop GM technology so many years after countless studies and real world experience have shown it to be safe. Bob Phelps is Australia's answer Dr Andrew Wakefield, the vaccine alarmist. If the precautionary principle was applied as Phelps wants it, we would still be cave dwellers. Shameful.
8/01/2016 3:06:10 AM

Those '36 European countries that have banned gmos' is yet another anti-gmo lie. People should really look further than the headlines on Natural News for whats really going on in the world.
8/01/2016 4:09:21 AM

So is the greens leader saying they have no effects on human health or the envt? How have the fears regarding health and the envt being assessed? What studies has the govt undertaken in Australia to allow the leader of the greens to say he thinks the precautionary principle should be overturned? Please list your studies for doing so, or are u just doing this as a vote grab and demonstrating that our political system is about popularity rather than integrity.
Robert Wager
8/01/2016 6:10:07 AM

And this is what the European Academies Science Advisory Council said about the PP. The misuse of the precautionary principle has led to restrictive legislation and both a political and market mistrust of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This has had a profound chilling effect on both public and private investment for European agricultural research EASAC-Planting the Future 2013
8/01/2016 7:16:01 AM

So Didda what is really going on with GMOs globally that the '36 EU countries' is a GM lie? What are the real stats on GMOs?
8/01/2016 1:26:35 PM

So is the greens position changing like the title reads, or is he just expressing his opinion with no connection to party policy? Bit like Turnbull and that illusive republic that seems to never happen.
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